The Government has laid regulations so that from April 1st 2017, 18 to 21 year olds will no longer be entitled to the housing cost element of Universal Credit, unless they can prove they meet an exemption. Labour has put down a motion to annul the regulations, which will now be debated at a Delegated Legislation Committee.
Homeless 18-21 year olds still entitled to housing cost element of Universal Credit
Regulations in force from April 1st 2017 mean that 18 to 21 year olds are no longer entitled to the housing cost element of Universal Credit unless they can prove they meet an exemption.
As we have previously highlighted, the removal of housing costs will only apply to people making new claims from April 1st 2017 in Universal Credit Full Service areas. There will be no immediate impact on funding of supported housing, which is currently paid through Housing Benefit.
- those not subject to work-related requirements
- victims of domestic violence
- care leavers
- people in temporary accommodation
- people in work, subject to minimum earnings requirement (see paragraph 24)
- people who have left work up to six months previously, subject to minimum earnings requirement (see paragraph 26)
- young parents
- those for whom ‘in the opinion of the Secretary of State, it is inappropriate to live with each of their parents.’
The memo provides examples of those for ‘whom it is inappropriate to live with each of their parents’ (paragraph 20).
These include homeless young people, specifically:
- those owed the statutory homelessness duty
- those helped under local authority housing operations services, the new prevention and relief duties of the Homelessness Reduction Bill (in England) or the Housing (Wales) Act 2014
- those moving on from temporary or supported accommodation
- those being supported by a third party
- rough sleepers or those ‘sofa surfing’.
These exemptions remain while it is considered inappropriate for the claimant to live with their parents. Online guidance outlines full details of the time periods for each exemption.
Proving an exemption is met
The DWP have provided some basic information on how the exemptions process will operate in practice.
Some exemptions will be determined through the standard claims process (e.g. if a person has responsibility for a child).
To determine if a person is exempt because it is ‘inappropriate for them to live with their parents,’ young people will need to provide evidence during a conversation with a Job Centre Plus Work Coach. The DWP envisage that the evidence requirements will be light touch and that people will not be expected to provide documentary evidence.
The supporting evidence may also come from the local housing authority, or an appropriate third party organisation working in the local area. The form that this can take is flexible and will be determined at a local level.
Concerns with the exemption process
Homeless Link and other homelessness agencies have been working with DWP officials to develop an extensive list of people who will still be entitled to the housing cost element of Universal Credit. It is welcome that homeless young people, including those moving on, have now been included.
We remain concerned, however, about the feasibility of this policy operating in practice. Many young people will not want to disclose why they meet an exemption to a Work Coach, potentially leading to a number of young people disengaging with the process entirely and not receiving their housing cost entitlement.
Although it is welcome that third party organisations can submit evidence, which can help mitigate this issue, information on how organisations can be deemed appropriate to provide information and the mechanism for providing this information is not yet available.
Concerns also remain on how young people will be able to secure a tenancy without first proving that they meet an exemption, which may in turn require proof of a prospective tenancy. There is no information yet available on how this issue is to be resolved.
We are currently in discussions with DWP about the feasibility of the exemptions process and will keep members informed of any further information. Please contact Chris Brill at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any further questions in relation to the practicalities of the exemptions process that you would like fed back to the DWP.
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Chris is our policy manager with particular responsibility for a number of areas including welfare and migration. Chris is currently covering for Paul Anderson while he is on sabbatical leave.
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