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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/young-people-living-independently-benefit-support/young-people-living-independently-ssac-call-for-evidence
The Social Security Advisory Committee’s (SSAC’s) next research project, carried out as part of its independent work programme, will focus on the effectiveness and impact of the support provided through the benefit system to young people living independently.
We intend to start this work early next year (2018), but in the meantime we would like to receive evidence which will:
- help us define the final scope for this work
- provide a pool of evidence on a range of issues on which we can draw
We would therefore welcome input from a broad range of organisations and individuals who have relevant insight or evidence to share with us.
Background to our research project
Successive governments have taken a view that young people should be in work, education or training; and have made a number of changes to prevent the benefit system encouraging them to leave home and live independently where there are other options available to them. This was underlined in the budget statement on 8 July 2015, when the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said that “young people in the benefit system should face the same choices as other young people who go out to work and cannot yet afford to leave home”.
As far back as the late 1980s, benefit entitlement was removed for many 16 to 17 year olds, and benefit paid at a reduced rate for other young people. Since then a number of further changes impacting this group have been introduced including, for example, the following:
- the introduction of a Youth Obligation that requires 18 to 21 year olds to either earn or learn (underpinned by an intensive period of support in terms of structured work preparation designed to improve their chances of securing work)
- the introduction of the Single Room Rent for young people – which subsequently transitioned into the Shared Accommodation Rate for single people under age 35
- the withdrawal of help with housing costs from Universal Credit from some 18 to 21 year olds
- the introduction of a lower National Minimum Wage (£4.05 per hour for under 18s) and apprenticeship hourly rates (£3.50 per hour for under 19s) for people under age 25
We would like to build a better understanding of:
- the cumulative effect of the impact of recent welfare policies on young people (including both changes targeted at young people and more general reforms which apply to all age groups)
- the outcomes for young people in terms of education, work and housing
We are particularly interested in hearing about impacts on groups in vulnerable situations and the effectiveness of any exemptions put in place to protect them.
Call for evidence
The committee would like to hear from anyone who has experience and evidence relating to the following issues:
- On which groups of young people should SSAC’s research focus, and what are the key issues for those groups, and why? What evidence exists to support your view?
- What age range should we focus on, and why?
- What are the impacts of DWP’s policies and programmes on this group of young people – both beneficial and challenging? Are there unintended challenges? How can some of the challenges identified be addressed?
- How do these opportunities and challenges intersect with characteristics and experiences such as gender, race, disability, mental health conditions, addiction, domestic abuse etc? And to what degree is ‘geography’ a factor – for example are there specific challenges faced by young people living in rural or de-industrialised areas?
- DWP’s policies aim to discourage young people from living independently where they would need to rely on support from the benefit system and where there are alternative options open to them:
- What role does social security play in young people’s decisions to leave home?
- Are vulnerable young people getting help they need? If not, what would improve the position?
- What evidence is there that might assist our work? How can we obtain some relevant practical insight – particularly from young people living independently direct?
- What can be learnt from other countries about the role of supporting young people through social security?
How to respond
Responses, focusing on the above questions, are needed by 31 January 2018 and should be sent to:
The Committee Secretary
Social Security Advisory Committee
Alternatively they can be emailed to email@example.com
Further information can be obtained from the Committee Secretary on 020 7829 3354.