Campaign to reduce risk of homelessness for young people

Fiona Simpson
Thursday, January 25, 2024

Dozens of youth organisations are backing a campaign for ministers to develop a plan to prevent homelessness for 136,000 young people in the UK.

Campaigners have warned that youth homelessness figures could be higher due to numbers of people sofa surfing. Picture: Monkey Business/Adobe Stock
Campaigners have warned that youth homelessness figures could be higher due to numbers of people sofa surfing. Picture: Monkey Business/Adobe Stock

The #Planforthe136k campaign highlights Centrepoint figures which reveal that 135,800 16-to 25-year-olds presented at their local authority as homeless or at risk of homelessness in 2022/23.

The campaign, backed by organisations including OnSide, Centrepoint, the National Youth Agency, UK Youth and Redthread, warns that “many young people experiencing homelessness remain hidden, not showing up in the data, so this figure could easily be double and with Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, it’s getting worse”.

It adds that over the past two years New Horizon Youth Centre, a day centre supporting young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in London, has seen a 12 per cent increase in young people using its services.

A policy briefing published by the campaign highlights key barriers which may push young people into homelessness, including a lack of support to transition into adulthood.

It states: “Young people are not adequately supported during an already challenging transition to adulthood. They may be pushed into homelessness due to violence, abuse and trauma at home or in the care or criminal justice systems. Required to be socially and financially independent for the first time, they face lower pay and minimum wage jobs in the labour markets, increasing their risk of poverty.”

It has created a three-point plan to reduce levels of youth homelessness.

This includes prevention through work by schools, councils, at home and in a young person’s community through elements such as an early identification programme within schools so those at risk are identified and supported and better practical education for independent living.

Councils are urged to create a youth-specific chapter in the Homelessness Code of Guidance and a ringfenced budget for youth specific services while at ministers are urged to support the improvement of family support services to increase earlier identification of issues which may lead to homelessness.

“Housing” is listed as the second strand of the plan with MPs urged to improve capacity and regulation of suitable accommodation for young people.

“Finances” is also features with calls listed including scrapping age-related pay and benefits caps and increasing options for financial support by providing alternatives to needing a guarantor for renting.

“Homelessness isn’t a mystery or senseless, it’s a direct outcome of the systems that are meant to protect us all failing. When people don’t have the ability or support to advocate for themselves and push for help, they fall through the cracks. The severity of the situation requires a bolder and youth-specific response,” the campaign states.

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