Re; Housing Benefit and young people.
I don’t believe it is acceptable, that in an economy moving towards full employment, some young people leave school and go straight on to a life on benefits. Young people in the benefit system should face the same choices as other young people who go out to work and cannot yet afford to leave home. That is why I welcome that the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds will be stopped.
While I appreciate your wider concerns, there will be exemptions, including for vulnerable young people, those who may not be able to return home to live with their parents and those who have been in work for 6 months prior to making a claim.
I am encouraged that the Government is also committed to supporting young people getting into work, which, I believe, is the best route out of poverty. Under the new Youth Obligation, those aged 18-21 will be given intensive support to move into, and get into, work from day 1 of their benefit claim. This will place an emphasis on work experience, encouraging young people to develop the discipline for turning up to work each day. Alongside this, the Government is committed to supporting 3 million more apprenticeships by 2020 and, to ensure high quality training, an apprenticeship levy will be introduced on all large firms.
The £1 billion Youth Contract is already providing new opportunities for 18-24 year olds through wage subsidies to employers, including apprenticeships and work experience placements. Importantly, the minimum wage will be increased by more than inflation for the first time since 2008, and the apprentice National Minimum Wage will be increased from October this year. This comes alongside the raise in personal allowance, which sees 26 million people pay less tax, and 3 million of the poorest working people pay no tax at all.
It is also important to highlight that over £500 million has been invested since 2010 to tackle and prevent homelessness, while the Government is helping to look at how local services for young people at risk of homelessness can be better joined up. This will also help young homeless people develop the skills they need to get into employment and to help them find accommodation in the private rented sector.