28 May 2015

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YMCA, the world’s oldest and largest youth charity, is warning of the ‘long-term consequences’ of proposed Housing Benefit changes announced in today’s Queen’s Speech.

The charity, which was formed in 1844 and which provides just under 10,000 beds across England, says more than 1,400 young people currently in its care could be left homeless or rough sleeping if Government plans to remove automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds with the introduction of the Full Employment and Welfare Bill.

Additionally, the latest figures show that 19,031 young people across the country could be affected with more than three in five of those living in social housing*.

YMCA is a national Federation and has 114 members across England. These members intensively supported 228,000 young people last year.


Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England, said: “YMCA understands the need for the Government to reduce the levels of youth unemployment and the overall spend on welfare, however, there are long-term consequences for removing Housing Benefit for this age group.

“The misconception is that young people are simply abusing the system to have a good life when, in reality, for young people accessing the social security system, it is not a choice but a necessity.

“Nearly 1,400 young people currently supported by YMCAs would be left homeless if entitlement to Housing Benefit was removed for all 18 to 21 year olds.

“Whether it be due to having a young child to look after, having recently left care or having been made homeless, for many of these young people, returning home is not an option and Housing Benefit is only thing separating them from the street.

“YMCAs work day in, day out to support young people to gain employment and improve their educational prospects and many young people are only able to do so by accessing Housing Benefit. Removing this will only create further instability in their lives and make the prospect of finding work more difficult.

“YMCA would urge the Government to retain automatic Housing Benefit entitlement for 18 to 21 year olds so that the most vulnerable young people in the country continue to receive protection and support during their times of crisis and need.”

Click here to read what young person, Sam, from YMCA Humber, thinks about the changes.

Click here to read our joint briefing with Centrepoint, Crisis, Homeless Link, Kids Company, Shelter and St Mungo’s Broadway on the impact of removing Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds.

Sign up to support our Manifesto for young people here.

*Source: Department for Work and Pensions – Housing Benefit Statistics

For further information, interviews or to arrange a visit please contact Andy Mortimer on 020 7186 9543.


Notes to Editors

  • Founded in 1844, YMCA in England is made up of 114 member YMCAs working to ensure that young people have opportunities to thrive and contribute positively to their communities.
  • YMCA operates in over 530 different communities in England impacting upon the lives of over 600,000 people every year.
  • YMCAs provide almost 10,000 beds for young people every night. YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of safe, supported accommodation for young men and women.
  • YMCA enables nearly 43,000 people every year to engage in education, skills and training to enable them to improve their opportunities in the job market.
  • YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of health and wellbeing services promoting physical activity.