Young people from Southend YMCA air their concerns over potential Housing Benefit changes
Young people from Southend YMCA have expressed their concerns over the proposed changes to Housing Benefit announced in today's Queen's Speech.
Kelly Malin, 19 says that the potential changes, which will see the automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit removed for 18 to 21 year olds, 'I am seriously concerned, these changes mean that I may no longer be able to live at my supported accommodation at Southend YMCA, I would be out on the streets'
Southend YMCA supports up to 30 young people at any one time from the local area, and housed 47 young people last year.
Kelly has been supported by Southend YMCA since March 2014.
She said: "There is a misunderstanding that young people end up homeless through their own doing, but there are many reasons including having left care, or broken relationships at home, sometimes making it unsafe to live in the family home. Housing benefit allows young people to be able to access supported accommodation, as supported a young person with their basic needs, without it, I would be homeless".
YMCA is the world's oldest and largest youth charity, intensively supporting 228,000 young people across England every year. Research shows that up to 1,400 young people across YMCAs could be made homeless by the changes if they come in in full.
Denise Hatton is YMCA England Chief Executive. YMCA England is the national council of YMCAs across the country, which includes Southend YMCA.
She said: "YMCA understands the need for the Government to reduce the levels of youth unemployment and the overall spend on welfare, however, there are long-term consequences for removing Housing Benefit for this age group.
"The misconception is that young people are simply abusing the system to have a good life when, in reality, for young people accessing the social security system, it is not a choice but a necessity.
"Nearly 1,400 young people currently supported by YMCAs would be left homeless if entitlement to Housing Benefit was removed for all 18 to 21 year olds.
"YMCA would urge the Government to retain automatic Housing Benefit entitlement for 18 to 21 year olds so that the most vulnerable young people in the country continue to receive protection and support during their times of crisis and need."
Syrie Cox is CEO at Southend YMCA and said "Our staff work day in, day out supporting young people to gain employment and improve their educational prospects and many of these only able to do so by accessing Housing Benefit. Removing this will only create further instability in their lives and make the prospect of finding work more difficult"