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SSAC Report on young people living independently

23 May 2018

SSAC Occasional Paper 20: Young people living independently

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View press release

This Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) report examines the effect of the support provided through the benefit system to young people living independently – that is, those not living with parents or other relatives or guardians.

These young claimants often have no or little access to financial support outside the benefit system. They therefore feel the effect of welfare changes more than young people living with their parents or other guardians.

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Department for Work and Pensions.

The report follows on from consultation Young people living independently: benefit support (12 December 2017 to 31 January 2018).

Disability Rights UK contributed to this report.

Report recommendations

The Department for Work and Pensions should:

  1. Ensure every young person aged under 25 is proactively offered a choice about whether their housing-related benefits are paid directly to their landlord or into their own bank account, and about whether Universal Credit is paid to them fortnightly or monthly.

  2. Place a duty on jobcentre work coaches to inform young people about all available grants and funds. Consider ring-fence funds to provide additional support towards work-related costs, such as buying equipment or work-specific clothing, or travelling to and from work.

  3. Change the application of sanctions for young people living independently via a number of adjustments to the sanction process to decrease the risk of inappropriate sanctioning.

  4. Trial both youth specialist work coaches and also specialist advisors who support work coaches in their interactions with young people with complex needs – focusing first on those living independently. This should be evaluated, and rolled out more widely if successful.

  5. Exempt care leavers from the shared accommodation rate and the under-occupancy penalty until they reach age 25.

  6. Monitor the numbers of 16 to 24-year olds living independently who are eligible for but not in receipt of benefit. Tackle the barriers to claiming the benefits to which they are entitled and receiving the support they might need.

  7. Publish evidence demonstrating the affordability of basic living costs for a young person living independently on benefits and take action if these rates are not enough to cover essential living costs.

  8. Publish evidence on the affordability and availability of housing for young people at the shared accommodation rate in every broad market rental area, and take action where affordability is too low.