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Romford YMCA youngster hits out at plans to scrap housing benefits

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 June 2015

Romario Maloney

Romario Maloney

Archant

A teenager has hit out against new government plans to scrap housing benefits for 18-21-year-olds.

Romario Maloney, 19, lives at Romford YMCA in Rush Green Road. He earns enough to just about cover his rent, leaving little-to-nothing for him to live on.

Without housing benefits, he says he wouldn’t be able to afford accommodation at all.

“With the help of job seekers allowance and housing benefit I was able to get back on my feet and eventually find work,” he told the Recorder.

“Being on benefits isn’t a lifestyle choice; it is a safety net for people who need it most.

“I just about earn enough to pay my rent, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to afford to live. Without housing benefits I wouldn’t have been able to afford accommodation at all – even with a job I am limited on how much money I have.”

Last week’s Queen’s speech laid out government plans to tackle youth unemployment.

Romford YMCA supports around 170 young people across Havering and Barking and Dagenham and is set to raise its concerns about the proposals to MPs.

Lou White, operations director for the charity said: “This is likely to prevent young people from accessing emergency accommodation when they need it the most.

“The majority of our residents do not have the option of going home to their parents. Housing benefit is a safety net that protects them from a life of domestic abusive, violence or sleeping rough.”

Research shows up to 1,400 young people across YMCAs nationwide could be made homeless if the full proposals come in.

Denise Hatton, YMCA England chief executive, said: “We understand the need to reduce levels of youth unemployment and the overall spend on welfare, however, there are long-term consequences for removing housing benefit for this age group.

“The misconception is that young people are simply abusing the system to have a good life. In reality, it is not a choice but a necessity.

“Whether it be due to having a young child to look after, having recently left care or having been made homeless, for many of these young people, returning home is not an option and housing benefit is only thing separating them from the street.”

Contact Romford YMCA on 01708 766211 or romfordymca.org.

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