24 November 2023

It was great to welcome BBC Spotlight to our Lighthouse cafe on Wednesday. Thank you to YMCA Exeter residents, Lewis and Chas* for sharing your thoughts on the Autumn statement.

*name changed

YMCA Exeter welcomes the new changes that the government has announced today to raise the minimum wage, to increase benefits by 6.7% and to “unfreeze” the Local Housing Allowance rate and calculate it at the 30th percentile of local market rents once more. 

“With the tougher ‘Back to Work Plans’ highlighted today, we ask the Government to not forget to treat people as individuals,” says Si Johns, YMCA Exeter Joint CEO. “It’s vital that we don’t generalise about people who are claiming Welfare Benefits like Universal Credit. Supporting over 100 young people every year at YMCA Exeter, we see many young people desperate to get back into work and others who need time and support to deal with serious issues before attempting to return to employment in a sustained way. We can only understand where people are at in this journey by engaging with them as individuals and listening.”  

“We’re pleased to hear that the minimum wage is going up. This will have a big impact on young people at YMCA Exeter who work in minimum wage jobs. But it’s also important that the Government ensure that funding allocated to sectors like Child care, Enablers and supported housing providers is also increased in line with these salary increases. To not do so means that it is often charitable organisations that have to make up the difference between the income given to provide these services and the increased salary costs of providing them.  

“Unfreezing the Local Housing Allowance will go some way towards helping young people move on into private rented housing, but the housing crisis remains. There are still thousands of people on local waiting lists for housing that doesn’t yet exist. Real, sustained investment into the building of social housing must be a priority for this Government” 

“At YMCA Exeter, we’ve invested a lot of time and money into creating affordable accommodation for young people to be able to access and live independently. Last year we opened 26 new flats in Exeter and next year we plan to do even more.”

And thank you to Church Times, for including thoughts from our JCEO, Si Johns.