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Agencies speak out to protect 'vulnerable young'

29 June 2012

by a staff reporter

A BACKLASH against David Cameron's announcement of further benefit cuts - including removing housing benefit from under-25s, and child benefit from families with more than three children - has been led by the Roman Catholic Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN).

It said that it was "extremely concerned" over the proposed government cuts, unveiled by the Prime Minister on Monday.

CSAN, an agency of the RC Church in England and Wales, said that the proposals would further damage families already that are suffering from the first round of swingeing benefit cuts.

It said: "It is worrying that the Government would consider introducing a further package of significant limitations and reductions to benefits when we are only starting to see the devastating impact on families from the first round of changes."

Completely removing child benefit from certain children would "realistically jeopardise their wellbeing", the agency said, arguing that to impose cuts in these areas without waiting to see the impact of earlier cuts was "irresponsible".

Depaul UK, the largest national youth-homelessness charity, said: "80,000 young people become homeless every year. The majority of these become homeless because of family breakdown. For these young people, leaving home is not a financial choice, made easier by the availability of housing benefit. It is a matter of safety, and the safety-net of housing benefit enables society to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected."

The Children's Society said that further cuts would remove the last safety-net from already vulnerable children. The chief executive, Matthew Reed, said: "The Government has already cut a substantial £18 billion from the Welfare Bill that will disproportionately hit children and vulnerable families. Disabled children are set to lose up to £1400 per year in vital support, and families with children who care for a disabled parent will be considerably worse off, facing a cut of up to £3500 per year. The out-of-work benefit cap will also push more than 200,000 children into greater hardship, with thousands potentially being forced out of their homes.

"We welcome the Prime Minister's assurances that housing benefit will not be taken away from young people leaving the care system. But there are significant numbers of under-25s who simply won't have the option of staying with friends or family. Many young people could be forced into homelessness."

Charities that supply food parcels said this week that they had experienced "ridiculous growth", and could not keep pace with demand.

The Trussell Trust, which runs 201 food banks and fed 128,000 people last year, estimates that, by 2016, half-a-million people a year will be in receipt of a food parcel.

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