Another day, another hoop for struggling young people to jump through: on Friday 3rd of March the Conservative Party went through with a promise that was in their manifesto, denying Housing Benefit to 18-21 year olds.
The idea is that these 18-21 year olds will choose to either pay their own rent or move back in with their parents. With homelessness on the rise and a housing market in crisis, it seems like a strange time to choose to cut Housing Benefit.
Perhaps the Tories didn’t consider circumstances where a young person might not be able to move back with their parents. Though there are exceptions to the new rules, such as those with mental or physical disabilities, or who face threats of violence living at home, it’s not clear how complex the application process will be.
For desperate young people, particularly LGBT+ youth who make up a high proportion of those living on the street, it may be difficult to prove that they can’t return to living with their parents. As the asylum seeking process has shown when it comes to LGBT+ people seeking refuge, sometimes even providing the state with sex tapes has not been enough to prove a person faces oppression for their sexuality. Similarly, the process for applying for the Personal Independence Payment and other disability-related benefits has been riddled with controversy as legitimate claims were dismissed and many recipients face having to go through the appeals process to get the benefits they are entitled to.
It’s impossible to assume that the process for 18-21 year olds getting benefits that the government denies them will be any more just or any less complex. The Conservative government is condemning many to homelessness, particularly members of the most vulnerable groups in our society.
In addition to this, domestic violence shelters are also facing funding cuts and many now rely on donations, limiting the numbers they can house. This, in tandem with the Housing Benefit reform, will force young people, particularly young women, to stay in unsafe environments.
This is just one more step in the Conservative Government’s plan to minimise the welfare state, leaving people homeless, starving, and incredibly vulnerable. Young people are taking on the biggest share of the burden, particularly young, disabled and LGBT+ people. The Conservative Government find this acceptable. We should not.