Living or Surviving? - Benefits, barriers, and opportunities for young people transitioning out of homelessness

New research from CRSP, funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority Homelessness Taskforce and facilitated by St Basils, highlights the impact of low income and the social security system on young peoples’ living standards and their opportunities to transition out of homelessness. The research comprised in depth interviews with 21 young people aged 17 – 25 across the West Midlands who were living in or had moved on from supported housing after experiencing or been at risk of homelessness.

Key findings:

  • Young people living independently face the same costs regardless of age, yet the social security system provides a lower rate of benefits to people under 25 – Universal Credit is £70 a month less. Having to manage on a very low income, impacts not only on young people trying to get by day to day, but also on the ability to move forward in their lives. Struggling to cover essentials let alone anything else, especially with rising food and energy bills was a constant stress.
  • Earnings from work can enhance living standards and help support young people towards independent living, but the stability and adequacy of earnings is crucial. Fluctuating hours and pay could upset benefit payments, and cause difficulty for young people’s budgets and housing costs.
  • The complex interaction of earnings with the social security system for young people living in supported accommodation caused uncertainty about the financial viability of working
  • Supported accommodation is an important ‘stepping stone’ towards independent living. Support and advice from housing providers can help ease the transition and settling into independent living

What would help young people:

  • Adequate Universal Credit rates for young people under 25
  • Work needs to be viable with less complex interaction with the social security system
  • Improving access to affordable and suitable housing
  • Subsidised transport could ease financial pressure and increase opportunities

Read the full Research Report and Findings Summary here