Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Changes: 18-21 Housing Costs
18-21 Housing Costs
Who will be affected by this change

Until the Regulations are published we can only speculate based on the information available and have produced a flowchart - click here.

We expect that this measure is likely to affect:

  • Single 18-21 year olds.
  • Claiming UC on the Digital Service.
  • Who on are after 1st April 2017 need a HCE included in their claim ie either by:
    • making a new claim for UC, or
    • becoming liable for rent whilst on UC.
  • Who are a jobseeker or working 'part time'.
  • Who could live with their parents.
  • And are not otherwise excluded/protected.

Which young people are excluded/protected from this change?

The DWP want to exclude any young person who has barriers to work and/or no parental home in which they can live.

So, we are expecting that the following young people will be excluded from the measure and able to claim help with housing costs through Universal Credit:

  • Not falling within the 'all work-requirements group' - eg, not: a carer, with a limited capability for work, a parent of child under 3 (reducing from 5 in April 2017).
  • Couples.
  • Care leavers (as defined in the Regulations).
  • Young people where the DWP consider it inappropriate* for them to live with parents.
  • Working** young people, and
  • Those who have been in work** for 6 months or more - for the first 6 months after leaving work.

* This will include more than just those 'estranged' from their parents and could include where the parental home is overcrowded, or where the parental home is in an area where it would not be safe or inappropriate for the young person to live.
** We are expecting there to be an earnings threshold linked to this.

We are assuming the rules for 16 and 17 year olds remain unchanged.

What can those affected do?

The DWP have estimated that there will be 10,000 young people affected by this measure.

18-21 year olds who are affected will not be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment as no housing costs element will be included when their Universal Credit award is assessed.

Analysis of the proposal and its implications by Crisis - "The withdrawal of support for housing costs under Universal Credit for young people: more pain for little gain?" here.

Background to this proposal

In the Summer Budget 2015 statement (paragraph 1.159) the government state:

"To prevent young people slipping straight into a life on benefits, from April 2017 the Budget will also remove the automatic entitlement to housing support for new claims in Universal Credit from 18-21 year olds who are out of work. " 

Note that this specifically refers to Universal Credit and not - as had been previously stated - to Housing Benefit. This is significant because under Universal Credit any 18 – 21 year old living in ‘specified accommodation’ (ie many types of supported housing) is able to claim Housing Benefit to help them pay their rent. So we would assume that this Housing Benefit would continue regardless of their circumstances.

So it will only be the Housing Costs Element included in a Universal Credit assessment that will be affected by this measure.

We also know that it will only affect claimants on the 'Full'/Digital service, and that those in receipt of a Housing Costs Element at the point of change ie 1st April 2017 will be excluded (we assume for as long as their UC award includes a HCE ie no breaks). But this could mean that someone on UC who moves into rented after 1st April 2017 from non-rented may fall under these new rules.

New ‘Youth Obligation’ for 18 to 21 year olds on Universal Credit

From April 2017, young people will participate in an intensive regime of support from day 1 of their claim for Universal Credit, and after 6 months they will be expected to apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship, gain work-based skills, or go on a mandatory work placement to give them the skills they need to move into sustainable employment. Presumably failure to participate will result in sanctions.

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