Fears Tories will make vulnerable young people homeless with support cuts
RESEARCHERS at the Scottish Parliament have highlighted the scale of housing cuts that will hit young people, as the Tory policy to slash housing support is rolled out.
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice), which creates politically neutral reports on key policy debates, has said that the total number of young people affected is expected to hit 11,000 people a year once the cuts are fully implemented.
In Scotland, that means 1,000 young people a year will see housing support they were previously entitled to disappear.
Spice reports: “The UK Government estimates that, GB wide, around 1,000 people will be affected by the policy in the first year, rising to 11,000 when Universal Credit is fully rolled out. In Scotland, it estimates a few hundred people will be affected in 2017-18 and that this is expected to rise to around 1,000 people each year when UC is fully rolled out.”
The cuts, impacting single jobseekers aged 18-21, began on April 1 2017 – although only in areas where Universal Credit has already been imposed. Only five of Scotland’s 32 council authorities have implemented the system – but this will rise to 20 by April 2018.
The Tories claim the change “is about stopping young people slipping straight into a life on benefits”. But housing experts and the Scottish Government have warned that the cut reduces the chances of finding employment, increases homelessness risks, creates extra public costs in other areas, and fails to tackle the root causes of the housing crisis.
Shelter Scotland warned that a lack of support raised the prospect of further homelessness cases.
“In Scotland, 28 per cent of homeless applications in 2015-16 were made by young people aged 18-24. Although the new regulations exempt young people who are in temporary accommodation, there is a risk that when these young people are offered permanent accommodation, they will struggle to afford it and ultimately be unable to sustain the tenancy, thus falling back into a spiral of homelessness,” wrote Aoife Deery, a policy officer at the housing group.
The new Spice report follows a debate in the Scottish Parliament, led by MSP Ben Macpherson, criticising the policy, and calling for an exemption from the cuts in Scotland. While Tory MSPs rejected calls for their government to act, social security minister Jeane Freeman said that the Scottish Welfare Fund would provide support.
Picture courtesy of Kid Clutch
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