THE Government should set up a unit to co-ordinate housing for the young, among a raft of measures to head off the growing crisis of homelessness, a study says. Homes for Our Children, published today to coincide with National Housing Week, calls for urgent action by a host of agencies to provide young people with the stable base 'vital for their development'. Local authorities must treat all homeless 16- and 17-year-olds as vulnerable and 'in need' under the 1989 Children Act, so that they are offered housing and social support.
But according to the National Housing Forum - which brings together local authority associations, pressure groups and housing institutes - one of the key obstacles to young people finding homes is the benefits system, as most require financial assistance.
Young people, it says, have been disproportionately and critically affected by cuts and changes in the benefits system. 'The extreme difficulty of obtaining loans or grants for the cost of setting up home is deterring some young people who need to leave home, and who may then remain in situations where they are abused or at risk,' the report says.
It urges the Government to restore benefit levels for 18- to 24-year-olds to that of over-25s, and make income support available to those aged 16 and 17 who need to live independently.
Homes for Our Children; the National Housing Forum, c/o Association of District Councils, 26 Chapter Street, London SW1 4ND; price pounds 10.Reuse content