Housing benefit change 'will make thousands in Devon and Cornwall homeless'
Cutting young people's housing benefits would leave thousands homeless in the South West, a leading charity has warned.
Almost 30,000 young people in Devon and Cornwall would suffer if the Government abolished housing benefit for under-25s, according to the housing charity Crisis.
David Cameron told this year's Conservative Party Conference that instead of claiming housing benefit, under-25s should move back in with their parents.
Some 29,970 young people currently claim housing benefit in the region, of whom more than half are raising children and 20% are working.
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Jim McKenzie, of CAB Cornwall, said Mr Cameron's comment meant under-25s would only be able to leave home if they could "immediately" afford to pay full rent.
"Over 90% of all new housing benefit claimants, regardless of age, are in work but by definition cannot afford to pay current rent levels despite that. A large number of young people would be limited to looking for work local to their family home, the option of 'getting on their bikes' will be restricted to those who can guarantee finding well paid work.
"With abuse of children and young people being a major news item at the moment, is restricting access to HB, potentially forcing young people to stay in an unsafe environment or risk living on the streets, really a good idea?"
Robb Campbell, chief executive of the charity Shelter, said: "Young people in the South West and across the country are already facing an incredibly tough time, with student debts, high unemployment, and a housing crisis that means many can't find an affordable place to live.
"Most people under 25 who can live with their parents already do so, but not everyone has this option. Lots have adult responsibilities of their own, such as a young family to support or a job that they're working hard to keep. Others have left home to escape family problems. These proposals would leave them with nowhere to go.
"Rather than punishing young people for no reason other than their age, the government should be on the side of those who are striving to get on and make their way in life."
The homeless charity is campaigning against removing the benefit, claiming that moving back home would be impossible for many young people.
It has warned that for many young people, housing benefit is all that stands between them and homelessness.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: "It would be unworkable and irresponsible to withdraw housing benefit from under-25s at a time of high rents and youth unemployment."
Last year ten thousand people nationally were accepted as homeless because their parents would not or could not house them, and more than a third of those were aged 16-24.