Thursday, 11 October 2012

Housing benefit plans are not new

Excellent letter in Wednesday's Guardian.

Housing benefit plans are not new

The Guardian, Wednesday 10 October 2012

The chancellor's proposals to reform housing benefit for the under-25s are not new (Analysis, 9 October). The Thatcher government's Social Security Acts of 1986 and 1988 were underpinned by the assumption that families should take greater financial responsibility for their young people. This resulted in the ending of income support for 16- and 17-year-olds, except on proof of "severe hardship", and the abolition of "householder status" for under-25s, by the introduction of lower rates of income support for this age group. The impact of these changes proved disastrous.

First, many care leavers for whom family support was not an option experienced poverty and homelessness. This led to campaigning activity by care leavers which resulted in "exceptions" for limited periods. However, it was not until the introduction of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 that there was a comprehensive response to address their plight.

Second, there was a larger but at that time lesser-known group of abused and neglected older teenagers who suffered greatly at the hands of their parents. In order to qualify for benefits so that they could leave their families, or remain in their own accommodation, they had to prove "severe hardship" or "estrangement" at regular intervals. Many gave up on these draconian tests, officially described then, and proposed now, as "safety nets", but which reflected the long shadows of the deterrent poor law. They either remained and suffered at home or ended up homeless. We have become increasingly aware of the problems of maltreated young adults and developed more compassionate and effective policies to prevent youth homelessness. It would be inhumane to turn the clock back.

Professor Mike Stein
University of York

1 comment:

  1. Social security is critically important for house, because it protects you and makes you to lead a healthy life.
     Hardship Letters