Highland MP, Drew Hendry has said that a U-turn from the UK government on housing benefit for under 21s shows the Tories have ‘finally realised that they wouldn’t get away with penalising young people through this appalling policy.’

The comments come as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published a written statement – just hours before the Easter recess at Westminster – confirming a major change in Universal Credit policy. The UK Government has confirmed it will amend regulations so that all 18-21 year olds will be entitled to claim support for housing costs in Universal Credit.

The current situation is that people between 18 and 21 who make a new claim to UC in UC Full Service areas need to meet certain requirements in order to receive that vital financial housing support.

The UK Government statement about the changes includes provision for a Youth Obligation – described as an ‘intensive package of labour market support for 18-21 year-olds looking to get into work.’ The Government have provided no further detail on what this obligation will entail.

Young people in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey have already been affected by the change, with many other parts of the Highlands due to move over to Universal Credit full service, over the coming months. To date, the Scottish Government has protected young people from this Tory policy by providing financial support through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Drew Hendry MP commented:

“This u turn is just another example of a failing tory austerity agenda and it is shameful that it’s taken the UK Government till now to realise this policy was just wrong from the start. Even more so, that the Scottish Government had to put in place measures to protect young people in my constituency from this cruel policy.

“To introduce changes that sees young people driven into homelessness, shows a complete lack regard for the pressure on local authorities. It also shows no respect for our young people and their contribution to our society. It’s high time the Tories realise that people starting out in life need support into work and into homes, not to be penalised.

“We now need to see detail from the DWP on what they mean by a ‘youth obligation‘ and what this means for young people here in the Highlands.”