Minister to meet YMCA and young people to discuss Housing Benefit
Work and Pensions Minister, Iain Duncan Smith has agreed to meet young people from Cambridge to discuss housing benefit for the under-25s after he agreed not to scrap the payments for the time being.
MP Julian Huppert had fought against the move to scrap the benefit which would have hit young people living on their own or in centres such as Cambridge’s YMCA.
And he promised to continue the fight to make sure that young people who cannot live at home with their families will still receive help from the government.
He told Mr Duncan Smith in the Commons yesterday (Monday, March 11): “I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues are delighted that the proposal did not become government policy and will happily keep making representations on it.
“Although it would be wonderful if all under-25s had a loving and stable family to live with, does the Secretary of State accept that this is simply not the case?”
And he asked if he had met groups like the YMCA “to understand the realities facing many under-25s and continue to provide them with the support they need to have somewhere to live”.
Mr Duncan Smith agreed to the meeting but told Julian: “We have a significant problem because we inherited a welfare budget approaching £200 billion that had risen out of control under the previous government.
“He is fully aware that we have to reform it both to get people back to work and to ensure that we get the cost under control. Those are all areas we have looked at, but in those discussions we decided that, in the round, it was not a priority.”
Julian said later: “I am pleased that the Minister has yielded to Lib Dem pressure not to take this damaging step – but I don’t want the Tories to try to bring it back again. I will continue to fight, therefore, to make sure that young people who find themselves unable to live at home can still receive help.
“Not all young people can or should stay at home until they are 25. We cannot turn our backs on them just because they find themselves in this situation.”
Jonathan Martin, CEO at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough YMCA said: “We’re really thrilled that Julian has secured this meeting for us and some of our young residents with Iain Duncan Smith.
“Whilst for most young people living at home is the best and most practical solution, for some young people home isn’t the safe, supportive or caring environment it should be. Their experience is one of conflict or unsuitable accommodation or overcrowding and, for a few, one of violence or abuse. For these young people Housing Benefit is a key factor in enabling their move towards independence.”