Blog: The Scottish Government cannot keep paying for a failed Westminster policy

CIH vice president Jim Strang

CIH Vice President Jim Strang calls on the UK government to reconfirm its commitment to reinstating housing payments for 18-21 year olds.

In 2015 the UK government announced proposals to remove automatic entitlement to help with housing costs for 18-21 year olds on Universal Credit. The rationale behind this move was that young people should be paying their own way or living with their family until they can afford to pay for a home of their own.

In reality, the policy was widely unpopular. The housing sector and others were quick to point out that many vulnerable young people do not have a safe and loving parental home to return to – often having arrived at their current destination through the care system or homelessness.

Concessions were made, the policy would not apply to those with a growing list of vulnerabilities. Here in Scotland, our government put an end to the cruel policy by ensuring that those who were affected received financial support through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Eventually, in March this year the UK government announced that the policy would be dropped – a very welcome announcement. However, to date, there has been no indication that steps have been taken to reinstate housing payments for those young people affected. The Scottish Government is therefore still paying to support 18-21 year olds who should never have had their benefit entitlement removed in the first place.

This money is being delivered through a welfare fund that is already stretched due to the hardship being caused by austerity and cuts to benefits and services in other areas. This money could be better used to support other people who need it, not propping up the UK government’s failed policy of removing basic support from our young people.

This situation is unjust and cannot continue. As such, we are calling on the UK government to confirm their commitment to reversing the policy and set out a clear timeline to do so.

  • Jim Strang is vice president of CIH and chief executive of Parkhead Housing Association