Young people from YMCA West London have aired their concerns over potential housing benefit changes announced in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday (May 27).
Part of the Queen's Speech centred around changes to the housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds, scrapping automatic entitlement.
Susie Horton, 18, who has been supported by YMCA West London since January 2015, said: “If I lost my housing benefit, I would become homeless because I wouldn't be able to go back home. I would end up sofa surfing where I'd be open to abuse again.”
Ryan Williams, 23, lives at YMCA West London in South Ealing and said: “No Housing Benefit would have meant I'd have gone to prison. I was tagged but because YMCA could give me a home I had an address and could stay out. I had nowhere else to go.
“No family, nowhere to live, just sleeping on a friend's couch.
“This was the only place, and the support was amazing.
"I've turned my life around and am training to be an electrician. Housing Benefit made this possible.”
YMCA England chief executive Denise Hatton said: “The misconception is that young people are simply abusing the system to have a good life when, in reality, for young people accessing the social security system, it is not a choice but a necessity.
“Nearly 1,400 young people currently supported by YMCAs would be left homeless if entitlement to Housing Benefit was removed for all 18 to 21-year-olds.
“YMCA would urge the Government to retain automatic Housing Benefit entitlement for 18 to 21-year-olds so that the most vulnerable young people in the country continue to receive protection and support during their times of crisis and need.”