RLA trainer, and housing benefits expert Bill Irvine, returns with his Universal Credit column for private landlords housing benefit tenants. The change in benefit for 18-21 year olds is set to come in from April 2017, but landlords with tenants on benefits should be aware of potential impacts. Read on for more details:
As I’m sure you’re already aware, the Government has, on a number of occasions, flagged up the likelihood of Housing Benefit entitlement being withdrawn from the majority of 18-21 year olds from April 2017.
The House of Commons library has just produced a briefing, which can be downloaded here, which provides evidence on the potential impact of withdrawal and provides comment from organisations and professionals working with young homeless people.
The report refers to:
“As part of the Summer Budget 2015 the Chancellor formally announced the removal of entitlement to the housing element of Universal Credit (currently Housing Benefit) from young people aged 18-21, with some exceptions, from April 2017. It is expected that this measure will be implemented by regulations. The stated rationale is to “ensure young people in the benefits system face the same choices as young people who work and who may not be able to afford to leave home.” The measure is forecast to save £40m by 2020/21.
A related Budget announcement set out plans to introduce a Youth Obligation for 18 to 21 year olds on Universal Credit from April 2017. Young people will be expected to participate in an “intensive regime of support from day 1 of their benefit claim, and after 6 months they will be expected to apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship, gain work-based skills, or go on a mandatory work placement.”
It suggests certain categories of young people will be exempt from the removal of Housing Benefit, including vulnerable young people;
- Single parents;
- Young people who may not be able to return home, due to estrangement;
- Those who have a disability which prevents or restricts their work capability
- Those who have been in work for 6 months prior to making a claim.
We will have to wait until the legislation is produced to establish the full extent of the exemptions but the above-mentioned examples should provide at least an insight into those most likely to be protected. There may also be some element of transitional protection for those already claiming Housing Benefit at the point of this proposed change.
Organisations such as Shelter, Crisis and Centrepoint welcomed the limitation of the impact to 18-21 year olds, as opposed to the wider age group of 16-24 year olds, but are still actively lobbying against the removal what they describe as an “essential safety net” which can offer a lifeline to young people faced with homelessness.
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RLA Universal Credit / Local Housing Allowance (LHA) training