Housing Benefit Reform: A Further Squeeze on Britain’s Young People

Stephen Donnan 

Image © Kymberly Janisch

As a man of 24 who has experienced homelessness first hand, you will forgive me if I find George Osborne’s sustained and prolonged attack on the young and vulnerable insufferably despicable. I had decided not to watch the Tory Party conference, as my blood pressure is rather high enough without the added smug grin of Osborne and his Conservative party cronies adding to my systolic pressure. However I was unfortunate enough to learn, as had been rumoured, that the current Government is planning to axe housing benefit for those under the age of 25, because in Cameron’s World, everyone gets along great with their non-deceased, wealthy parents who live just round the corner in a five bedroom house.

Wrong.
For me, and I suspect for many others my age, this is one of the many issues that has proven to me over and over again that the Conservative Party are out of touch to the point of delusional malice. A cut to the housing benefit for under 25′s flies directly in the face of the previous Labour Government’s National Youth Homelessness scheme to provide temporary housing to homeless young people in England, a move that was welcomed by charities such as YMCA England and Centrepoint back in 2007. The statistics back then demonstrated that around a third of people who had been declared homeless were under the age of 25, and around a quarter of those young people were homeless because their parents were no longer able or willing to accommodate them.

Five years on and the current administration is planning to push those same people to the brink by removing the one safety net that many young people feel stands between them and living on the streets. When I was homeless for a short time it was not because I wanted ‘more independence’ as Cameron and his Eaton chums would try to depict, nor was it because I fancied the student life or more freedom from my parents.

I was voluntarily homeless because I had no choice, the relationship between my parents and I had broken down so irrevocably due to my sexuality that I felt that running away at the age of 20 was my only option. I was lucky enough to have a few friends that had taken me in for a time, but there were nights that I spent in the January cold in Belfast thinking that my life was over. Eventually, and painfully, I managed to repair the broken relationship with my family and I am grateful that I now have a roof over my head.   Read more of this post

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