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The withdrawal of support for housing costs under Universal Credit for young people: more pain for little gain? (2015)

In order to generate some preliminary evidence about the current circumstances of 18 to 21 year olds claiming Housing Benefit, and to assess some of the potential consequences of withdrawing this entitlement, we commissioned the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University to conduct a short research exercise to provide broad estimates of the scale of the impact and the likely cost savings from the measure, and to provide some insights into the role that Housing Benefit plays in the lives of young people who are currently receiving this support.

In this report, we briefly review recent measures that have been made to curtail Housing Benefit expenditure, provide a working estimate of the number of claimants likely to be affected and the consequent cost savings this will bring. We assess some of the personal experiences of young people currently receiving Housing Benefit, based on six in depth interviews, and set this against some of the assumptions that lie behind the introduction of this measure.

Conclusion

The withdrawal of the Housing Benefit entitlement for some young people is likely to affect a fairly small proportion of claimants and save only a small amount of money, relative to the scale of the overall expenditure reductions the Government is seeking. More detailed research is needed on the circumstances of young people currently receiving Housing Benefit if policies are to be founded more on evidence than on received wisdom. But this initial exercise suggests that the withdrawal of Housing Benefit entitlement will not necessarily provide parity with those who do not receive it. Instead, many of those affected are likely to be made more vulnerable, less secure and less able to rebuild their relationship with their parents or to keep or find a job than they were before.

Reference

Cole, I., Pattison, B. & Reeve, K. (2015) The withdrawal of support for housing costs under Universal Credit for you people: more pain for little gain? Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.