In today’s world, it is great to celebrate a remarkable achievement. Youth homelessness in Brighton & Hove has fallen by almost 80 per cent as targeted initiatives prevent the city’s most vulnerable residents becoming homeless. Highlights include initiatives that intervene early to help prevent family breakdown, a new supported housing project for teen mothers and tackling the underlying causes of youth homelessness such as mental illness, drugs or alcohol dependency.
Congratulations are due to all concerned, particularly Brighton and Hove City Council, whose Youth Homelessness Strategy action plan contained 76 actions, of which 69 have been achieved since January 2007, and seven partially achieved.
At risk of souring the celebration, the fantastic achievements recorded above could be undone by the recently announced changes to Housing Benefit entitlement. While young people are already restricted to a room in a shared house, the changes to entitlement would see those living in an ordinary room in a shared house in Brighton and Hove lose up to £13.09 per week from their housing benefit which they would be required to make up from their Job Seekers Allowance of £50.95. This would leave them just £37.86 to live on – food, heat, light, clothes, and everything else.
It is likely that they will not make up all their rent, resulting in arrears and the possibility of eviction. But for many, young and old alike, the prospects of securing private rented accommodation might become a lot more difficult. As Chris Norris of the National Landlords Association said in the Telegraph on Saturday, “Landlords will have to look at their profit and loss and decide how much they can afford to cut their rents by. If they are not going to do that, they will have to seek non-housing benefit tenants or sell up”.