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Housing charity attacks proposed youth benefit cuts

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Government proposals to cut housing benefits for people under 25 criticised by leading housing charity.

A leading national charity, Crisis, which supports young homeless people, argued that such a cut was potentially disastrous for young people still trying to find their feet on the career ladder.

It is thought that up to 385,000 people will be affected by the cuts, 204,000 of these households with children and only 66,000, of those affected, being in work.

MP, Mary Glindon said the cuts would do little to save money for the government in the long run.

“It is another illustration of blowout of touch this government is with people”, she said.

David Cameron first announced his party’s plans to remove housing benefits in June 2012, by suggesting a £500 a-week cap.

His solution for those under-25s left homeless was for them to simply move back in with their parents until they could afford to live by themselves.

Glindon said this showed a complete disregard for the variable family dynamics that existed in Britain. Not all young adults had stable family environments to go back to and cases of domestic violence were at an all-time high.

“This idea, if it comes to pass, will do little to help young people with no family home or no option but to move out,” said Glindon.

“Nor will it help those who have to claim housing benefit because they are in low paid jobs and face high rents. In fact it could have a devastating effect on youth homelessness.”

“We need to be realistic about family life and ensure that ideas to save money today, do not risk damaging the prospects of young people with no family to fall back on. We should instead be investing in their futures,” she said.

Ex-children’s minister, Sarah Teather also raised concerns about the thousands of children that could be affected by their struggling parents.

“Obviously not all of those children will be made homeless and it is difficult to tell how many will be, but a substantial number will be required to move and that will have a destructive effect on their education,” she said.

“It will remove them from their friends. It will have a destructive impact on the support networks that their families have.”

Communities Minister Don Foster claimed, however, that if the cuts were implemented, ‘vulnerable groups, particularly those in care, will be protected’.

“Many people experiencing homelessness have had a range of negative experiences in their childhood or youth,” he said.

“We accept that young people are a key risk group—35 per cent of those accepted by local authorities as homeless in 2011-12 were under 25.”

“Young people with experience of care are particularly vulnerable, with 16 per cent of rough sleepers surveyed by a recent study having experienced care at some point during their childhood,” Foster added.

Foster also argued that the government was still working towards better options to reduce the welfare bill, and that no cuts or changes had been finalised yet.

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