A local MP has said that a u-turn from the UK government on housing benefit for under 21s shows ‘the Tories have finally realised penalising young people in this way is callous.’
Mhairi Black, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South comments come as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published a written statement – just hours before the Easter recess at Westminster – confirming a major change in Universal Credit policy. The UK Government has confirmed it will amend regulations so that all 18 to 21 year olds will be entitled to claim support for housing costs in Universal Credit.
The current situation is that people between 18 and 21 who make a new claim to UC in UC Full Service areas – currently being rolled out – need to meet certain requirements in order to receive that vital financial housing support.
The statement also includes provision for a Youth Obligation – described as an ‘intensive package of labour market support for 18-21 year-olds looking to get into work.’
Mhairi Black MP, said: “I have been calling for this u-turn since my maiden speech in 2015. Young people have been given a bad deal by the UK government and this change of policy in the shambolic roll out of Universal Credit is welcome – we need to see detail from the DWP however on what they mean by saying young people will need to sign up to a ‘youth obligation‘ before accessing this much needed benefit.
“We also need clarification on whether or not these changes will be linked in any way with sanctions. Our young people need support into work and into homes and not to be penalised as they start their life by having vital financial support removed from them.
“The Tories have finally realised that penalising young people – as they had done until now – is simply callous and could only lead to a rise in homelessness for young people across the UK.
“The SNP Scottish Government has always mitigated this callous policy and provided support to under 21s through the Scottish Welfare Fund, and the social security bill ensured this support would be in legislation – at an estimated cost of up to £6.5 million by 2020. It is shameful that it’s taken the UK Government till now before realising this policy was just wrong from the start.
“The Tories think they can make any cuts in welfare and get away with it – we will see £4bn in annual cuts to Scotland by the end of the decade. Now that they have u-turned on this issue, perhaps they can u-turn on more austerity measures that target societies most vulnerable people.”