George Osborne under pressure to axe housing benefit cut

Pressure is mounting on the chancellor to axe plans to cut housing benefit for under 25s, with some reports suggesting the move has already been shelved.

A study published today by umbrella group Homeless Link says welfare cuts are already increasing the chances of young people becoming homeless. And yesterday a Yougov poll commissioned by single homelessness charity Crisis found 57 per cent of people are opposed to cutting housing benefit for under 25s.

A report in the Observer newspaper yesterday suggested the chancellor has already backed down from including the plans in his autumn statement this week, after opposition from Liberal Democrats, including deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

George Osborne raised the idea of cutting housing benefit for under 25s at the Conservative Party conference in October, as part of a plans to cut a further £10 billion from welfare spending.

The Homeless Link report published today, Young & Homeless 2012, found family breakdown is increasing homelessness among under 25s, and welfare reforms are making it harder for them to find housing.

The charity said there is a ‘strong case’ for not cutting housing benefit for under 25s.

Young people have already been hit by an increase in the age at which individuals can claim housing benefit for a single bedroom property rather than a room in a shared house from 25 and 35, and caps on the amount that can be claimed for properties in the private rented sector.

The survey of 117 homeless charities and 101 local authority housing services found 65 per cent of providers felt the changes had made it harder for young people to find private accommodation, and 50 per cent said more young people were seeking support.

Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: ‘These findings highlight the impact that capping welfare for young people is already having on their ability to find housing. Homelessness among the under 25s is increasing in many areas while unemployment, rising rents and cuts to homelessness and youth services are leaving many with nowhere to turn.’

Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of Depaul UK, said: ‘Homeless Link’s report demonstrates the need for urgent action. Youth homelessness figures don’t have to keep on rising; safety, security and support at the right time can prevent a housing emergency becoming long term homelessness.’

The Crisis survey found 74 per cent of the 1,746 adults contacted by Yougov who had a view agreed under 25s should have the same rights and access to welfare as other adults. Thirty per cent of people who backed the cuts said they would not do so if they increased homelessness.

The charity has been campaigning to protect housing benefit for young adults. Chief executive Leslie Morphy said: ‘The polling results and our campaigners’ personal experiences, show that the majority of the public doesn’t support this unworkable and arbitrary plan to deny housing benefit to under- 25-year-olds.’