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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

Download it here.

Changes to housing costs entitlement for 18-21-year-olds 16/03/2017

Regulations have been laid before Parliament to implement a Conservative Party Manifesto commitment and the announcement made as part of the Summer Budget 2015 when George Osborne, then Chancellor, announced the removal of entitlement to the housing element of Universal Credit from young people aged 18-21, with some exceptions, from April 2017.

 

The Universal Credit (Housing Costs Element for claimants aged 18 to 21) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (2017/252) were laid before Parliament on 3 March 2017 and are due to come into force on 1 April 2017.

 

The stated rationale is to "ensure young people in the benefits system face the same choices as young people who work and who may not be able to afford to leave home."

 

A related Budget announcement (summer 2015) set out plans to introduce a Youth Obligation for 18 to 21 year olds on Universal Credit from April 2017. Young people will be expected to participate in an "intensive regime of support from day one of their benefit claim, and after six months they will be expected to apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship, gain work-based skills, or go on a mandatory work placement."

 

The measure was initially forecast to save £40m by 2020/21. In response to a PQ answered on 24 January 2017, the Minister said around 10,000 people would be affected saving an estimated £95 million over the course of the current Parliament. On 7 March 2017 Caroline Nokes said that "in the region of £105 million" would be saved over the period of this Parliament.

 

The Regulations specify the categories of young people who will be exempt from the removal of the housing costs element of Universal Credit. These exemptions include: those who may not be able to return home to live with their parents; certain claimants who have been in work for six months prior to making a claim; and young people who are parents. Section 2 of the full report provides information on all the exemptions that will apply.

 

The House of Commons Library has produced a useful briefing paper providing information on the decision to restrict entitlement to the housing cost element of Universal Credit for young people aged 18-21 which ARCH members mat find useful. The paper sets out the exemptions that will apply and includes comment on the potential impact of the measure.

 

An Early Day Motion 1014, praying against the Regulations, had (at 15 March 2017) attracted 81 signatures.

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