Dear Chancellor, keep the Universal Credit lifeline for young people

We have written an open letter to the Chancellor asking him to reconsider his decision to end the Universal Credit uplift at the end of this month. The letter, signed by almost 50 charities working with young people who have experienced care and homelessness, warns the government that cutting Universal Credit will hit young people hardest.

New research lays bare fear amongst young people:

  • 7 in 10 (69%) say cut will make it more difficult to buy food and essentials.
  • 6 in 10 (59%) say cut will make it harder to pay rent and bills.
  • Over a third (38%) of young people say cut will mean they have to borrow money or ask for a loan.

Universal Credit Claimants of all ages have been receiving an additional £20 a week as part of a raft of measures to support those affected by the pandemic introduced by the government in March last year. Last month analysis by Centrepoint found that claimants under 25 would lose more than a quarter of their income (25.2 per cent) should the uplift end. Prior to the uplift, Under 25s received around £15 a week less than older claimants meaning many young people were forced to choose between food and paying the bills.

Nick Connolly

Managing Director of EYH

"Most of us would struggle if our income was permanently reduced by 25%. Homeless young people have it hard enough already because they can't rely on support from their parents, extended family, friends or carers. If we really want to unlock their huge potential so they can contribute to society, we need to stand by them while they're looking for work or getting an education. We need to ensure they have the support they need to succeed and not make their lives even harder."

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THE INDEPENDENT

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Open Letter

Dear Chancellor,

Our organisations support some of the country’s most vulnerable young people, those who have experience of care or homelessness, and we are extremely worried about how the end of the Universal Credit uplift this month will affect them.

Younger Universal Credit claimants receive a smaller amount than those older than 25, with the assumption that they are supported by family or friends. For the young people we support, who cannot rely on this, this leaves them struggling to afford basic essentials.

There is no discount on food, bills and rent because you’re under 25 – but the current system leaves them with less money to pay for them.

That is one reason the UC uplift has been such a lifeline to vulnerable young people since it was introduced last year. Cutting it now would reduce their income by more than a quarter (25.2 per cent) at a time when those sectors in the economy most likely to employ them are still recovering and many are struggling to find work.

Young people themselves are of course very worried too.

This year people supported by youth homelessness charity Centrepoint have been conducting their own research into the experience of young Universal Credit claimants, including how the uplift has affected them.

The research paints a grim picture of what young people expect to happen once their income is reduced after September. They found that many claimants will struggle to find the money to pay for rent and bills, with almost seven in ten worried about how they’ll afford food and other essentials.

Many respondents worry the end of the uplift will damage their future prospects; almost half said cutting their income would make it harder to access work, education and training.

The end of the uplift will represent a financial challenge for all Universal Credit claimants but, for the young people we support, it will leave them facing impossible choices, again forced to choose between bills and food and at risk of repeat homelessness.

The past year and a half has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone - the action of the government in introducing the uplift at the beginning of the pandemic was a lifeline for Universal Credit claimants. Removing it now, when the effects of the pandemic are still being felt, will rip that lifeline away. We therefore urge you to ensure there is an adequate safety net for this incredibly vulnerable group of young people to ensure they are not put at risk.

Yours sincerely,

Full list of signatories

Seyi Obakin, Chief Executive, Centrepoint; Nick Connolly, Director, End Youth Homelessness; Dom Wood DL, Chief Executive Officer, 16 - 25 Independent People; Leona McDermid, Chief Executive, Aberdeen Foyer; Jo Moore, CEO, Accommodation Concern; Jessica Brannan, Manager, Broxtowe Youth Homelessness; Patrick Vercoe, CEO, BYHP; George O’Neill, CEO, Cardinal Hume Centre; Cordell Ray MBE, CEO, CCP; Charlotte Eddisford, Managing Director, CHAS Housing Advice Service Bristol; Sarah Hernandez, Managing Director, Derventio Housing Trust; Carol Gallagher, CEO, Doorway; Marie Davis, CEO, Falcon Support Services; Sian Elen Tomos , CEO, GISDA; Helen Elliott, Chief Executive, Herts Young Homeless; Robin Burgess, CEO, Hope Group: Northampton Hope Centre and Hope Enterprises; Kathy Mohan OBE, Chief Executive, Housing Justice; Caroline Ridley, CEO, Impact Initiatives; Hannah Brooman, Director, InUnity; Ursula Patten, Operations Director, Key-Unlocking Futures; Paul Morrish, Chief Executive, LandAid; Frances Beecher, Chief Executive, Llamau; Mr Matthew Bushnell, CEO, Mary Seacole Housing Association; Phil Kerry, CEO, New Horizon Youth Centre; Carol Scawthon, CEO, New Roots Housing; Nikki Burley, CEO, Newark Emmaus Trust; Jan Larkin, CEO, Nightsafe Ltd; Jackie Hooper, CEO, North Worcestershire Basement Projects; Chris Quinn, Director, Northern Ireland Youth Forum; Eddie Bailey, Manager, Park Lodge Project; Susan Sadler, Charity Manager, Redditch Nightstop; Ben Keegan, CEO, Roundabout; Philippa Robson, Chief Executive, SASH; Stela Stansfield, Manager, SLEAP Accommodation Services; Jean Templeton, Chief Executive & Executive Director, St Basils; Debbie Moreton, Chief Executive Officer, Step by Step Partnership; David Smith, Chief Executive, Stepping Stone Projects; Hillary Bartle, CEO, Stonepillow; Paul Rosam, Chief Executive, The Amber Foundation; Matt Garrod, Director of Operations, The Benjamin Foundation; Siobhan Down, CEO, The Yellow Brick Road Projects; Chas Walker, CEO, YMCA DownsLink Group; Pauline Tomlinson, CEO, YMCA Heart of England; Andy Moreman, CEO, Young Devon; Tracy Underwood, CEO, Young People and Children First; Hannah Asquith, CEO, Youth Concern.