Friday 10 July 2015

The Budget and homelessness

This Budget is putting more young people at risk of homelessness than ever before.

Restricting housing benefit for 18-21 year olds will inevitably put vulnerable young people at risk. Not everyone is lucky enough to have family and friends to support them when they need somewhere to stay and these young people depend on housing benefit to keep a roof over their head. 

In the past couple of years we've seen the age of the people coming to Emmaus for support get younger and younger. We're now seeing more people in their late teens and early 20s turning to us because they have nowhere else to go. We depend on housing benefit to help us to support these people when they need it most. 

Cutting housing benefit will put young people at a disadvantage before they've even had a chance to establish a life for themselves. This might provide a quick fix for the government, making relatively small reductions to their welfare payments for the next few months and years, but the long term impact on society as a whole will be devastating. 

Increased homelessness places huge demands on public services as the people forced onto the streets suffer more health problems and are more likely to turn to crime just to survive. These cuts won't just impact on the people the money is taken from, they'll affect us all, putting more strain on an already stretched system.

Rather than punishing young people who are already vulnerable enough to need housing benefit, we should be supporting them to get the best possible start in life and doing all we can to prevent homelessness. 

Wednesday’s Budget outlined where the £12bn government cuts will be made which has sparked a mixed reaction from the charity sector. Some charity leaders are disappointed by the lack of Budget measures on irrecoverable VAT and Gift Aid. While opinions are divided whether failing to provide any key reforms of funding or tax relief to the voluntary sector is a good or bad thing

For Emmaus, one thing is certain. The Budget is putting more young people at risk of homelessness than every before, at a time where more and more young people are unfortunately finding themselves homeless.

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