A group from Newport in South Wales are making young people aware about huge changes to housing benefit for the under 35s.
With the support of Fixers, they have created coasters to get information out about the potentially life-changing new rules, which will come into force in April 2019.
They are concerned that little is known about the reform – announced by former Chancellor George Osborne in July 2015 – which will mean that many young people will get less help with their rent.
People who are single, live alone and aged under 35, will be subject to a new cap on their housing benefit if they meet certain criteria under the new scheme.
Leading the Fixers campaign is Ashley Marks, 24, who lives with his parents.
‘There are an awful lot of people aged 35 and under with no kids who are going to be affected,’ said Ashley.
‘At least if they see these coasters and the information on them, they can start to make plans for their future.’
On a personal level, Ashley believes he will no longer be able to afford to move out of home.
‘At 24, I thought I finally had the chance to move out and be independent but I feel these changes are pushing me back,’ he says.
‘I thought I’d finally get my freedom but now I simply cannot afford it, and I’m not the only one’.
The group launched their campaign at Friars Walk shopping centre in Newport, handing out their informative coasters to passing shoppers.
To view the coaster, click below:
‘We wanted to create an everyday object that people could get some information from and also include signposts to more detailed information online,’ adds Ashley.
Julie Little, a project manager from Gwent Welfare Reform Partnership, outlines the changes:
‘The change in housing benefit rules is the extension of the ‘Shared Accommodation Rate’ (SAR) for single people up to the age of 35 who rent a property from a housing association or council. Previously SAR only applied if you rented a property from a private landlord.
‘The Shared Accommodation Rate means the maximum amount of housing benefit paid is equal to the rate for renting a single room in a shared house.
‘This is the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate that currently applies to most people claiming housing benefit who live in the private rented sector.
‘There are some exemptions and for more details it is best to contact local councils and local housing providers.’
Ashley and his Fixers group are part of UNITY, a joint housing association youth forum which works with Newport City Homes and Charter Housing, to give young people a say in housing issues and communities.
‘Almost everyone in our group will be affected in one way or another and people need to think about it now so that they can plan for the future.
‘I’ve been working for the last four or five months but on a temporary zero-hours contract. I simply couldn’t afford to rent under the new changes coming in but I can stay at home.
'For others, they could be out on the street because they cannot afford somewhere to live.’
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below: