Removing housing benefit from young people could see 9,000 left unable to access accommodation and placed at risk of homelessness, a charity has estimated.
On Friday, the government unveiled regulations which will remove the housing benefit element of Universal Credit from those aged between 18 and 21.
It provided a list of exemptions, including where it would be “inappropriate” for the young person to live at home.
But in a note seen by Inside Housing, homelessness charity Centrepoint warned these exemptions were not exhaustive enough and would make it difficult for under 21s to find a landlord.
It said: “There is no simple or reliable way to put together a comprehensive list of exemptions which protect young people who cannot return to the family home.
“The youth homelessness sector estimate that the policy, as it currently stands, would mean that 9,000 young people will be unable to access accommodation and could be at risk of homelessness.”
It said the cost of increased homelessness to councils would wipe out virtually all of the planned £95m saving to the benefit bill outlined when the policy was first suggested.
The charity warned that even where a young person would qualify for housing benefit through the “inappropriate to live at home” measure, they would need proof of a tenancy before they can claim benefits under current rules.
But this would create a catch-22 situation, the charity warned, as landlords would be unwilling to let to them because they could not provide proof of income.
It also warned that proving it was inappropriate to live at home, a status which will have to be renewed every 12 months to continue claiming benefit, would be an extremely difficult burden for young people.
A survey by the Residential Landlords Association found 76% of private landlords out of a sample of 1,000 would be unlikely to rent to under 21s following the cut to housing benefit.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The government is delivering on its commitment to ensure young people in the benefit system face the same choices as young people who work but may not be able to afford to leave home.
“We know that personal circumstances will differ so we have worked closely with charities and the housing sector to develop a fair and robust set of exemptions to protect the most vulnerable young people.”
Source: “Inside Housing”