THE BLOG

Everybody Loses When Young People Are Out of Work

26/05/2015 18:43 BST | Updated 26/05/2016 10:59 BST

We see first-hand the impact that unemployment at a young age can have; from reducing the wages a person will go on to earn to increasing the chances of them becoming unemployed again in later life and in damaging their health.

However, to think that cutting Housing Benefit could drive young people into training or employment is to misunderstand the young people who currently rely on this form of welfare.

For the young people we work with, and the majority of those accessing both jobseeker's allowance and housing benefit, the social security system is not a lifestyle choice but a necessity.

YMCA is the largest provider of supported housing for young people in England. Our member YMCAs house nearly 10,000 people a night who, for a range of reasons beyond their control, have become homeless.

And while staying at home is an option for the majority of young people, the government needs to recognise that, for some, it is not.

Whether it be due to having a young child to look after, having recently left care or having been thrown out by their parents, these young people don't have the option of returning home and housing benefit is the only thing separating them from the streets.

We have calculated that if entitlement to housing benefit was removed for all 18 to 21-year-olds claiming Jobseeker's Allowance - or what we expect to be called the new youth allowance for this age group - nearly 1,400 young people currently supported by YMCA would potentially be left homeless with nowhere to go.

This would mean that the government would be in danger of taking away support from those who need it most, in their time of most need.

Additionally, to believe that removing housing benefit will reduce youth unemployment is to underestimate how important it is for young people, in particular, to have a stable place to live when searching for work or education.

If the government does as it set out in its election manifesto and takes away access to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, the instability that could be caused will only make finding work more difficult for the young people who would be affected.

YMCAs work day in, day out to support young people to gain employment and improve their educational prospects with many of these only able to do so by accessing housing benefit.

It is simply unrealistic to expect young people to find jobs and complete college courses when they are struggling to keep a roof over their head or are living in an unsafe home.

The vast majority of young people claim for only a short period of time (seven in 10 young people claim for less than six months) and, for them, the social security system acts not only as a safety net but also a springboard to enable them to get into training or employment.

Coming out of the recession, this new government has a real opportunity to address the high levels of youth unemployment.

However, if this government is committed to doing this and giving young people a decent start in life, this Queen's Speech needs to first focus on providing them with a safe and stable environment that allows young people the chance to flourish and reach their full potential - to which Housing Benefit plays an important role.