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FirstPort’s charity partner, Centrepoint, hands 20,000-strong Universal Credit petition into Downing Street

Young people with experience of homelessness last month handed in a petition to Downing Street calling on the government to ensure Universal Credit covers the true cost of renting for young people who have experienced homelessness. The Vamps star James McVey, and youth homelessness charity Centrepoint’s chief executive Seyi Obakin and young people who had experience homelessness were on hand.

The petition launched last year by Centrepoint, FirstPort’s corporate charity partner, has been signed by more than 20,000 people.

Currently, when someone aged 25 or over has spent three months or more in a homeless hostel, they become eligible to claim the higher one bedroom rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to help them find a safe, affordable place to live once they have moved on.

However, if you have lived in a hostel and are under 25, you receive a lower rate intended to cover the cost of renting a room in a shared property – something which is often unsuitable for vulnerable young people.

The petition calls for all young people leaving homelessness accommodation to be able to claim the higher one-bedroom rate, at an estimated cost of just £3.7m per year.

Handing in the petition, Seyi Obakin, Chief Executive of Centrepoint, said: “When it comes time to leave one of our services, young people often need to claim Universal Credit whilst they gain new skills and look for work. But the amount they can claim as under-25s is too low compared to rents in many areas of the country.

“Not being able to find a place of their own can leave these often vulnerable young people unable to start planning their future, and means that we can’t provide accommodation for other young people who need it.

“The cost to taxpayers of making this change is minimal but the impact on the lives of those young people trapped in hostels is huge. It’s time Universal Credit covered the true cost of renting locally for those young people leaving homelessness accommodation.”

Centrepoint petition

Seyi Obakin, Chief Executive of Centrepoint and The Vamps star, James McVey, with some of the young people helped by the charity.


About Centrepoint

  • Centrepoint is the leading charity for homeless young people aged 16-25.
  • Centrepoint supports over 15,000 homeless young people a year.
  • It provides accommodation-based and floating support services in London, Yorkshire, Manchester and the North East. It also runs the Centrepoint Helpline.
  • The Freephone Centrepoint Helpline is for any young person aged 16-25 who is worried about homelessness. It is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. The Centrepoint Helpline number is: 0808 800 0661.
  • Centrepoint’s work is about more than just providing a safe bed for the night; Centrepoint helps young people to turn their lives around by gaining essential life skills; tackling their physical and mental health issues and moving into education or employment.
  • Through policy work, Centrepoint aims to influence public policy, campaigning on behalf of the young people it supports and homeless young people throughout the UK.
  • HRH The Duke of Cambridge became Centrepoint’s Patron in 2005.