LONDON, March 31 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Young LGBT
people estranged from their families will be at particular risk
of homelessness after new cuts to housing benefits for young
people come into force in Britain on Saturday, charities and
From April 1, 18-21 year olds who aren't already receiving
benefits will no longer be entitled unless they can prove they
fall under an exemption - including that they have children or
that living with their parents will put them at risk of harm.
Paul Noblet, spokesman for homelessness charity Centrepoint,
said the new rule put at risk young lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) people whose families did not accept their
sexuality. Proving they were estranged from their families would
be difficult for those who are vulnerable, he said.
"Centrepoint believes this policy will increase the number
of young people in desperate circumstances slipping through the
safety net and being forced into homelessness," he said.
"Housing benefit is a lifeline for young people who cannot
live in the family home, not a lifestyle choice. Young LGBT
people whose families cannot accept their sexuality are a prime
example of that."
Homeless support worker Joshua Booth, 20, who works
part-time on a flexible contract, said without benefits he
couldn't afford to move out of his family home in Warrington,
northwest England, despite the strain living there puts on his
He said it was unfair he was now a year away from
eligibility for benefits due to the change introduced by the
ruling Conservative party. "It feels really arbitrary because
I'll be the same person, I'll have the same job, I'll be doing
the same things."
In an emailed statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a
spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said the
exemptions were "fair and robust".
"We want to make sure that 18 to 21-year-olds do not slip
straight into a life on benefits, which is why we are helping
young people get the training, skills and experience they need
to move into a job and build a career," the spokesman said.
(Reporting by Sally Hayden @sallyhayd, Editing by Ros Russell.;
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