One of the fundamental requirements for a young person to develop and flourish is the security of a home. However, for far too many young people the idea of a stable, secure and loving home is not a reality but a distant fantasy. For those facing this hardship, growing up in poor housing increases the risk of a young person suffering from ill health, lower educational attainment, unemployment and poverty. The start to life no one would wish for.
For many young people the family home provides a safe and loving place where they grow into young adults keen to make their own way in the world. However, even for these young people the opportunities to do so are becoming more challenging, particularly where financial support and help is not available from parents and others.
It is recognised that not enough new homes have been built over the past generation and this has contributed to a lack of low-cost housing available for first time buyers. As such, there are now more than 10 million households in the UK living in rented accommodation.
Such is the demand and increasing cost of housing it is critical the next government takes bold decisions to address the supply of housing.
The next government needs to promote and invest in the development of alternative models of housing to solve the current housing crisis in this country.
YMCAs, recognising this as a need, have already developed their own alternative models such as Y:Cube. As well as taking measures to increase supply, it is also important immediate action is taken to reduce the financial barriers that many young people face when looking to find somewhere to call home.
The introduction of a Help to Rent scheme nationally would give people who are not in a position to be able to save the initial deposit an important helping hand in moving into the private rented sector. There are excellent examples of these already being run by local authorities, housing associations and charities, but we urge the next government to be at the forefront of introducing a national scheme, similar to the concept of the Help to Buy scheme.
In addition to a large deposit, young people identified high charges by letting agents as a significant barrier to individuals being able to access the private rented sector.
When young people are able to overcome the barriers of availability and cost to finally find somewhere to rent, too often this is on insecure and short-term tenancies, leaving them under the threat of their stay coming to an abrupt end or facing regular rent increases.
For others the family home does not provide a safe and loving place and they find themselves needing help from organisations like YMCA.
These young people rely on the social security system to access this supported housing, and for many it is the difference between sleeping rough or receiving the help they need. However, this lifeline is under threat due to changes embarked upon by the previous government.
Firstly, YMCA welcomes the many exemptions put in place to protect more vulnerable people when changing eligibility for housing support for 18 to 21-year-olds. However, it is estimated that some 9,000 young people will have difficulty in accessing housing support under the new regulations.
Secondly, proposals put forward by the last government to reform funding are likely to mean less supported housing provision for young people being available, potentially resulting in increases in the number of young people sleeping rough on the streets.
Without a system that properly reflects the true cost of delivering supported housing, many providers, including YMCA, have already said that they will have to either reduce or close altogether a number of housing projects.
YMCA welcomes the recent homelessness legislative changes and the new duties they introduce. However, YMCA believes that without adequate resource behind these, local authorities and other organisations will be unable to fully deliver on its provisions. We therefore want to see the next government take steps to address the resourcing issue at the earliest opportunity in the new parliament.
- Look again at proposals to reform the supported housing sector to ensure that any new funding mechanism properly reflects the true cost of delivering supported housing
- Abolish the regulations that remove automatic entitlement to housing support for 18 to 21-year-olds
- Exempt all young people moving out of supported housing from the Shared Accommodation Rate
- Promote and invest in the development and supply of alternative models of low-cost housing such as Y:Cube
- Introduce a national Help to Rent scheme to support young people to pay for a rental deposit
- Ban unreasonable letting agent fees in the private rented sector
- Introduce a rental cap to limit the amount landlords can increase rents annually
- Legislate to increase the length of tenancies in the private rented sector
- Extend funding available to local authorities to enable them to deliver their homelessness duties