Laura Sharman 14 May 2019

Housing policy putting young women at risk, study warns

Young women are being forced into unsafe housing due to the government’s housing benefit policy, a new study has concluded.

Researchers at the University of Southampton, in conjunction Young Women’s Trust, warned the policy had numerous unintended and ‘devastating’ consequences on women under-35.

This includes being forced to live in housing that puts young women in danger of violence, abuse and discrimination, and keeping some apart from their children. It also found young claimants with anxiety and depression reported a downward spiral while living with strangers.

Report researcher Dr Eleanor Wilkinson said: ‘These changes to housing welfare were brought about to make economic savings, yet at what social cost? Our research has highlighted that these welfare cuts have hit some of the most vulnerable young people in society.

‘Many of the young women interviewed expressed frustration at trying to negotiate their way through a bureaucratic welfare system that did not account for their complex housing needs.

‘We urge the Government to conduct further research into the everyday impacts of these housing welfare reforms, in order to ensure that everyone has a safe and secure place to call home.’

Young Women’s Trust chief executive, Dr Carole Easton, added: ‘No matter their age, no one should be made to feel unsafe, be treated with less dignity or separated - purely on the basis of a legislative loophole – from their children.

’The Government should address these unintended consequences, which are having a devastating effect, and consider scrapping the ‘shared accommodation rate’ of housing benefit that sees under-35s receiving £41 less a week towards their rent and forces them to live with strangers.’

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