At least 20 young people in Wimbledon, and double that number in Mitcham & Morden, will be affected by the Conservative Government’s decision to strip 18-21 year olds of housing benefit, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has shown.
In total 18,000 young people across the country expected to be affected. The Liberal Democrats have committed to reverse the cuts, which came into force at the beginning of April.
As anyone walking through Wimbledon will testify, Merton is already suffering from increasing levels of homelessness, with official figures showing that the number of rough sleepers in the borough almost doubled in 2016. Charities have warned that stripping 18-21 year-olds of housing benefits could push more young people onto the streets while research has shown it is likely to cost taxpayers more than it saves.
Wimbledon's Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Carl Quilliam commented:
"The heartless decision to strip under-21s of housing benefit risks pushing young people in Wimbledon onto the streets.
“Vulnerable youngsters with nowhere else to turn are being abandoned by this Conservative government. This nasty and counterproductive policy should be overturned immediately.
“Younger generations have the most to lose from the increasingly divisive policies and hard Brexit agenda being pursued by this Conservative Government."
Whilst the party's candidate in Mitcham & Morden, Claire Mathys stated:
"This election is a chance to change the direction of our country. The Liberal Democrats will restore housing benefit for 18-21 year olds and prevent a destructive hard Brexit robbing young people of their futures."
Figures from the House of Commons library showing the number of 18-21 year olds in receipt of Housing Benefit who will be impacted can be found here (link)
The latest figures on rough sleepers by local authority can be found here (link)
Charities have warned the policy will risk pushing thousands more young people onto the streets. Research by Heriot Watt University has claimed the policy will save just £3 million. This means if just 140 more young people were made homeless, the policy would actually cost taxpayers more money overall than it saves. (link)