Centrepoint’s 50th Anniversary
Today I joined fellow MP’s in signing EDM 2260 celebrating CenterPoint’s 50th anniversary and highlighting the grave extent of youth homelessness and calling for greater support for young people ready to move on from hostel accommodation.
What are the barriers young people face when they’re ready to move on?
A severe lack of affordable housing options, landlords’ attitudes towards young people, low wages, insecure employment and reduced benefit entitlements all combine to prevent young people from leaving homelessness behind for good.
Under-25s get a bad deal in the job market. They’re often expected to survive on lower minimum wages and many can only find work on zero-hour contracts. If they’re unable to find work, they’re eligible for less Universal Credit simply because of their age. Yet if they do find work and decide to take on additional hours to save towards a rental deposit, the rate at which they lose their Universal Credit can mean that being in work leaves them less well off.
If a young person can’t save for a deposit they are effectively locked out of the private rented sector which in turn causes further problems in the already overstretched social rented sector.
What effect could a change in legislation have?
Alongside Centrepoint I am calling on the Government to align rates of Universal Credit more closely with the cost of renting a property in the private sector. We also want young people who have experienced homelessness to be able to access a higher rate of housing benefit and Universal Credit allowance. This way when they do find work, they can keep more of their benefits for longer – helping them transition into independent living.
Discrimination and unfair treatment in both the private and social rented sector must end now. That means an end to letting agents introducing blanket bans on housing benefit claimants and greater flexibility in social housing allocations, so that young homeless people can access affordable housing.
If young people have no housing options when they are ready to move on from supported accommodation, they risk falling into a cycle of repeat homelessness. To address this problem in the long term, the government and local authorities must work together to significantly increase the supply of housing that is genuinely affordable.
EDM #2260: CENTREPOINT’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY
That this House commends the work of youth homelessness charity Centrepoint on their 50th anniversary; is deeply concerned that in 2017-18 an estimated 103,000 young people in the UK were homeless or at risk; regrets that five decades on Centrepoint are still working with homeless young people in crisis who face the challenge of finding affordable housing and a living wage; recognises that under-25s leaving hostel accommodation are only entitled to the Shared Accommodation Rate of Local Housing Allowance, which rarely covers the full cost of renting a room; further recognises that over-25s leaving hostel accommodation are exempt from this lower rate, increasing their ability to move into longer term accommodation and to free up hostel spaces for others in urgent need; supports Centrepoint’s recommendation to extend the exemption from the Shared Accommodation Rate to under-25s; and believes that young people deserve the same chance to move on from homelessness for good.