THE BLOG

Youth Estrangement and Disownment Needs Status, Recognition and Definition

28/05/2015 15:43 BST | Updated 27/05/2016 10:59 BST

It was inevitable that it was going to happen: the government always were going to wield cuts at the young. But the recent Queen's speech gives us an idea about where exactly the belt will be tightened, and who specifically will be unable to rely on the help of the state.

Young people aged 18-21 are one of the groups with their head on the block. The proposals suggest that this group will no longer be automatically entitled to housing benefit, and their unemployment allowance will last a scant six months.

This will invariably force many young people to turn to their family resources for housing and financial assistance whilst wading through the bleak job market.

Yet there masses of young people who don't have families to turn to, who will not have a cosy and emotionally stable home in which to browse vacancies, and who will be left homeless without access to crucial housing benefit payments.

The kind government knife insists that care leavers will be protected, which works if your journey through the care system was such that you officially qualify as a 'care leaver'. But we must not forget that around 40% of young adults (many of whom have spent years in local authority care) do not automatically earn the 'care leaver' status.

These care experienced young adults and many others without family support will fall into the conglomerate that the government are calling 'vulnerable groups'.

And so who fits into that? How does a young person declare it? Will they be expected to evidence their family dysfunction? And if so, how much probing will vulnerable young people come under to be recognised in this category?

A young person may have had a seamless childhood, without social service intervention, but may be disowned by their family when they decide to 'come out' as gay or lesbian. Or if a young woman refuses a forced marriage, her family may ostracise her for good. Or when a young person reaches eighteen, they may quite rightly decide to leave a home if they didn't want to be connected to a family where they were belittled or neglected.

How do these young adults tell their difficult and intangible story to those tightly holding the societal purse strings? Will the same scrutiny that applied to those on disability benefit in the last round of welfare reforms be transferred to this group?

Remarkably, policy makers have largely ignored the fact that a large percentage of homeless youth are LGBTQI. Pointing to the fact that family estrangement is an issue that needs to be seen and legislated for.

But what I am certain about is that estranged and disowned young adults need more official recognition for their suffering, and a more visible status in order to access the vital help and support that they deserve.