Today was the State opening of Parliament where the Queen gave her 2015 speech. One of our Patrons, Rev’d Rose Hudson-Wilkin (The Queens Chaplain) led the procession.
I was on Queens Speech ‘watch’ regarding welfare reforms and the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill made reference to housing benefit for 18 to 21 year olds:
We have no details at present around potential exemptions. City YMCA London currently have exempt status and are hopeful that this will be maintained and mindful of how we must strategically position ourselves going forward.
Young adults (aged 18-21) will no longer be automatically entitled to receive Housing Benefit and will be expected to remain within the family home. Young people are homeless for many different reasons and for young people we work with returning ‘home’ is not an option. Our experience tells us that housing benefit is the only thing separating them from the street.
We continue to work tirelessly to support our young people to gain employment or aspire to improve educational attainment and recognise that many of them do achieve this as they have a safe base – City YMCA – to do this from. Removing automatic entitlement to housing benefit will only create further instability in their lives and make the prospect of finding work more difficult.
City YMCA developed a new housing model in 2014 displaying our vision of what we want to achieve with young people going forward – or rather what we want young people to achieve for themselves. This is an image for housing provision where young people are supported to excel. Engagement aspects of the proposed government ‘Youth Allowance’ is not too far away from our model and provides some comfort for young people potentially referred to City YMCA as they are not set up to fail.
City YMCA London will be lobbying for the exemption status to remain in place for 18-21 year olds. We will be lobbying for automatic entitlement to remain.
Gillian Bowen | Chief Executive Officer
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