POLITICS

Labour Force Government To Come To The Commons To Explain 'Catastrophic' Housing Benefit Cuts

An estimated 9,000 youngsters could find themselves homeless because of the cut

07/03/2017 10:56 GMT | Updated 07/03/2017 11:12 GMT
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Ministers will be forced to come to the Commons today to explain why they are cutting housing benefits for under-22 year olds.

Labour has been granted an urgent question on the policy by Speaker John Bercow, after the Government snuck out the changes on Friday.

Homelessness charity Centrepoint has estimated up to 9,000 young people could be forced to sleep on the streets because of the policy, and one Tory MP labeled it as “catastrophic”.

The Government is refusing to back down over the changes, with the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman arguing young people at risk of violence, abuse or have children of their own will be exempt from the cuts.

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey will quiz the Government at 12.30pm, with a minister from the Department for Work and Pensions due to respond.

The changes to the housing benefit section of the Universal Credit payment were part of the Conservative’s 2015 General Election manifesto – and were estimated to save the Treasury £95million.

Campaigners opposed to the plan were hopeful that Theresa May and new Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green would axe the policy in a move away from the austerity-driven focus of their predecessors.

On Friday, the Government slipped out confirmation the changes would come into force in a matter of weeks, prompting strong criticism from homelessness charities.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman denied the accusation the policy had been snuck out in a manner to avoid scrutiny, and said: “It was laid in the same way that regulations are always laid and as I say it’s a very longstanding and public commitment of the government that this was going to happen.”