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Welfare Reform and Work Bill: Joint briefing on support for housing costs for 18-21 year olds

07 October 2015

In the Summer Budget, the Chancellor announced that under Universal Credit there will be no automatic entitlement to support for housing costs for 18 to 21 year olds. The Government have been clear that vulnerable groups will be exempt, but have not yet confirmed how this would work in practice

 This joint briefing highlights our concerns about these changes. In relation to disabled 18-21 year olds the briefing states:

c) Those with a disability or mental health problem receiving the equivalent of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support

The Conservative Manifesto stated that 18-21 year-olds on JSA would no longer have an automatic entitlement to housing support. We would therefore expect that 18-21 year olds on the equivalent of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support will continue to be allowed to claim support for their housing costs. Of the 18- 21s currently claiming housing benefit, 19,214 are in receipt of ESA. They will already have gone through a Work Capability Assessment to determine that they need, or want, extra support to enter employment. It therefore seems appropriate that they continue to receive support for housing costs while this support is helping them to obtain work.

We would also contend that those who are in receipt of both elements of DLA and PIP be exempt. When a disabled person is found fit for work under the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) they will often still require adequate back to work support which can help them to overcome their disability related barriers to work. However, we know that disabled people are actually far less likely to get the support they need to overcome such barriers. To illustrate the work programme, has only supported 15% of its disabled participants back into work.8 We also know that disabled people are more than twice as likely as non-disabled people to be lacking but wanting work, at all qualification levels.9 Research commissioned by Leonard Cheshire shows that the employment rate for disabled people aged 16-24 is 19 percentage points lower than of their non-disabled peers.

Joint Briefing - housing costs for 18 - 21 yr olds