Youth homelessness given new priority

Young people forced to leave home are one of the biggest causes of homelessness, the housing minister said today while announcing a raft of new measures to tackle youth homelessness.

Minister Yvette Cooper said that the UK has successfully addressed the worst forms of homelessness, but it is now time to look beyond rough sleeping and families living in bed and breakfast accommodation.

More than a third of new cases of homelessness last year concerned someone under 25 years old, while under a quarter of people leaving home are forced to do so as their parents will no longer accommodate them.

At a speech at Centrepoint today, Ms Cooper said: “We are seeing a persistent problem of young people moving from one place to the next without ever having a proper home, which can impact severely on their life chances and put them out of reach of support services.

“Children and young people can face the most severe consequences if they experience homelessness, which can haunt them for the rest of their lives. That is why we made it a priority to help families with children out of bed and breakfast accommodation. But is also why we need to do more to help young people who find themselves homeless alone.

In response YMCA England and Centrepoint will work together to deliver a network of supported lodging schemes across England offering short-term accommodation. A New National Homelessness Advice Service will be launched, bringing together Shelter and Citizens Advice Bureau to offer advice to young people.

Ministers will be advised on the problem by a committee of formerly homeless young people and Centres of Excellence will be established in every region for successful councils to share their experiences.

“This new partnership with the voluntary sector will help young people move away from the damaging cycle of homelessness through schemes like supported lodgings, giving them the stability and support they need to move back to a settled home,” Ms Cooper added.

Shelter today welcomed the broad range of measures, but called on the government to consider the underlying causes of homelessness.

Chief executive Adam Sampson said: “The government must not lose sight of the fact that immediate triggers for homelessness – such as a row – can often be worsened by deeper problems such as overcrowding, sky high private rents or punitive restrictions on housing benefit for young people.

“Ultimately more social homes are needed to ensure all young people can find a safe and decent home.”