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CAS responds to Holyrood report on youth homelessness

Citizens Advice Scotland have responded to today’s report by the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities committee about the rise in youth homelessness.

CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says:

“On the evidence we have seen, when young people are homeless or struggling to maintain a home, this tends to lead to many other problems. It affects not just their finances but also their employment, their relationships and their health – both physically and mentally.

“The lack of affordable housing for young Scots delays their transition to adulthood and independent living. The young people we see often talk about the intense frustration they feel about being unable to afford the personal independence they want.

“Also, the benefits system frankly discriminates against young people. They are often entitled to lower benefit payments and less support than older people in the same situation, and their entitlements tend to be complex and difficult to understand. Some of the reforms being made to the system at the moment will make that situation even worse.

“Young people who are concerned about their finances or their housing situation can get free, impartial advice from their local CAB. But this situation needs more sustained action at national policy level. Both the Scottish and UK governments need to understand the pressures that young Scots are facing, and act now to help them.”

CAS has published a great deal of evidence over the last 2 years about the problems faced by young Scots. The report ‘Being Young Being Heard’ examines these in detail.

CAS has called for the following solutions:

  • The UK Government to ensure the fair and equal treatment of young people in the Housing Benefit system;
  • The UK and Scottish Governments to improve access to affordable mortgage lending for young people through flexible approaches to home ownership, such as shared ownership schemes, and taking measures to encourage lenders to lend; and
  • The Scottish Government to place emphasis on building affordable housing that is suitable for young people;
  • More integrated training of young people in basic life skills, e.g. how to manage a tenancy or mortgage, how to avoid debt, and how to be sure what their rights are (e.g. in housing or employment).  
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