West Midlands to trial new housing benefit scheme for young people - The Solihull Observer

West Midlands to trial new housing benefit scheme for young people

Solihull Editorial 19th Mar, 2024   0

A PILOT scheme to help young people living in supported accommodation into work and living more independently has been launched in the West Midlands.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has secured £4.5million of Government money through the region’s deeper devolution deal to become the first area of the UK to test the new benefits system.

Under the scheme, young people aged 18 to 24 who live in commissioned supported accommodation will pay a proportion of their rent and eligible service charges through their earned income with the remainder topped up through a grant payment.

The pilot is intended to remove the need for young people to navigate two benefit systems and work, potentially risking the loss of their home or their job.

Under existing benefits rules, when young tenants hit the income threshold the amount of Housing Benefit they can claim reduces, meaning they have to contribute more of their earnings towards rent.

Evidence shows this is a major barrier to young people who are thinking about seeking work, in addition to concerns over navigating the in-work benefits system, the risk of debt and the fear of losing their home as a result.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Mims Davies MP, said: “All young people should be able to access the wide range of benefits that fulfilling work can provide.

“We are committed to giving all those who can work the support they need to do so, with our £2.5billion Back to Work Plan set to help one million people find and stay in work through tailored and individualised support.

“This innovative DWP pilot will also ensure young people living in supported housing in the West Midlands can thrive professionally and personally. Without worrying about failing to meet their housing costs, they will be able to grab opportunities nearby to them.”

Councillor David Welsh, chair of the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce Members’ Advisory Group and Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, said: “This pilot is all about providing the additional help young people in supported accommodation need to overcome barriers to work so they can benefit from the vital opportunities and confidence employment will have on ensuring they fulfil their full potential.

“It’s vital that we do all we can to ease the many pressures and challenges that young people face today, and removing the stress of navigating the often complex benefits system, hopefully means more young people will be able to feel secure in a job and in their home.”


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