Cameron suggests cutting housing benefit for under-25s

David Cameron David Cameron said the existing welfare system was sending out "strange signals"

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The prime minister has suggested that people under the age of 25 could lose the right to housing benefit, as part of moves to cut the welfare bill.

Scrapping the benefit for that age group would save almost £2bn a year.

In an interview in the Mail on Sunday, David Cameron said he wanted to stop workers resenting people on benefits.

But a senior Lib Dem warned that the priority was to get young people into work, training or education to avoid "repeating the mistakes of the 1980s".

In his newspaper article, which comes ahead of an expected speech on the subject this week, Mr Cameron said the existing system was sending out "strange signals" on working, housing and families.

He called for a wider debate on issues including the cost of benefits.

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young said the article was a clear appeal to core Tory voters and MPs who have criticised Mr Cameron for failing to promote Conservative values while in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

'Trapped in welfare'

For the Lib Dems, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told BBC One's Sunday Politics he was "very relaxed" about the prime minister "setting out his own thinking".

But the coalition government had already brought in radical welfare reform and "the right thing to do" was to let them "bed in before we take further decisions".


Number 10 admits that David Cameron's proposal to remove housing benefit from young people may have to wait until the Conservatives' next manifesto.

That is because it is deeply unpalatable to many Liberal Democrats and is unlikely to become coalition policy.

Instead the prime minister "wants to begin a debate".

He asks: Why is it right that some youngsters cannot afford to move out of the family home while others are paid benefits to rent a room in the private sector?

Lib Dems ask: But what about those who are leaving care, or have no family, or don't earn enough to pay their rent?

Labour says it's the wrong solution when the young simply need work.

Looming over them all is the prediction made by the chancellor in the last Budget that a further £10bn will have to be saved from the benefits bill in the next parliament.

It feels like the 2015 general election campaign has already started.

He added that the immediate priority with young people was stopping them being "blighted by long periods of unemployment" as they had in the 1980s - a reference to the decade when there was a Conservative government.

The Mail quoted Mr Cameron contrasting a couple living with their parents and saving before getting married and having children, with a couple who have a child and get a council home.

"One is trapped in a welfare system that discourages them from working, the other is doing the right thing and getting no help," he said.

Mr Cameron said the welfare system sent out the signal that people were "better off not working, or working less".

"It encourages people not to work and have children, but we should help people to work and have children," he said.

He said that he also favoured new curbs on the Jobseeker's Allowance.

Later this week, Mr Cameron will set out more proposals aimed at cutting the UK's welfare bill, which could include forcing some unemployed to do community work after two years on benefits.

'Not palatable'

In March, the government's Welfare Reform Act received Royal Assent. That act - which applies to England, Scotland and Wales - introduces an annual cap on benefits and overhauls many welfare payments.

Danny Alexander: "The prime minister is free to set out his own thinking"

A Downing Street source said on Sunday that Mr Cameron was "starting a debate and setting out some ideas. We are realistic that some of them might not be achievable politically because they're not palatable to our coalition partners.

"We would like to get moving on these as soon as possible but we might not be able to get it done until after 2015."

In recent weeks the numbers of people claiming housing benefit reached five million for the first time.

Chancellor George Osborne indicated in his March Budget that the welfare bill should be cut by another £10bn between 2015 - the expected year of the next election - and 2017. That is on top of the £18bn of cuts during the current parliament.

For Labour, shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne called it a "very hazy and half-baked plan from the prime minister, when what we really need is a serious back-to-work programme".

"You have to remember that housing benefit is available to a lot of people who are in work and perhaps on low incomes, so for a lot of young families with their first feet on the career ladder this plan could actually knock them off the career ladder," he told the BBC.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    David is getting more like new Labor everyday. Spin out a crazy idea and see how we react. If its a good reaction go for it if not U-turn!

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    I'm starting to believe that Cameron is actually Iggle Piggle and not just a look-a-like. This kind of ridiculous measure could only be conceived by a toddler's TV character. To think how many billions are wasted on wars, pointless sports events, and even a painfully ironic celebration for the biggest tax dodging dole waller in the country, the queen. Pull your head out of your 'arris Dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    19 year old has a child. No father around.

    She automatically goes to the top of housing list...

    All paid for through welfare.

    Why is that a fair use of welfare?

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    #92 "Cameron is showing his nasty toff side again."

    He has another side?

  • Comment number 425.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    Here we go again-back street abortions,pregnant mothers living on the streets,babies left to die in dustbins.I suggest for Cameron(+some posters here)a trip to Russia, where there is no welfare state,so this can be experienced first hand.How about employing civil servants to enforce existing rules,then only the fraudsters will lose the benefits?Saved money would cover the wages/pensions

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Doctor Bob
    This is just another dismantling of society by a fascist government, happier representing the corporate interest than the people's interest

    =>Are you sure you know what a fascist government is? Well, you will when you're hauled from your bed at 4a.m. by two uniformed thugs for a remark such as you just made!

    The police love their 4am raids!

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    "David Cameron said he wanted to stop those who were working from feeling resentment towards people on benefits."

    Who's he trying to kid? Many of his policies, his rhetoric & the constant focus on "scroungers" by his chums in the right wing gutter press have had the express purpose of dividing ordinary people & building this resentment. Just so that he can now "justify" this kind of crass policy

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    The smoking gun for the "let em starve" posters, is the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of people in London and the SE who WORK- AND claim housing benefit. The cost of living is totally detached from wages and nowhere is that more obvious than among low paid young people. The IMF identified housing costs as a major economic problem in its most recent report on the UK economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    The logic of the government's position is to socialise the debt. This means making the low paid, the unemployed, the part-time employed and those on other benefits pay a disproportionate price for the pecuniary avarice and incompetence of those in the banks.

    Does any really believe that you boost economic well-being by reintroducing subsistence and giving tax relief to the wealthy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    Again , single people under 25 are to be grouped together with those who , early in life, create a state dependent family. Many post Graduates HAVE to leave home to find placements in London-to complete qualifications e.g M.Arch. Before, and in between short placements, they
    NEED Housing Benefit to remain in the Capital! Unfortunately for their families there are few opportunities in the NORTH.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    If I had a son who had gone to Eton I would be asking for my money back. They obviously don't teach basic economics there. So no housing for those under 25 (unless your are one of the fortunate ones who can stay at home). Talk about excluding people from society, what does he really think will happen?

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    Does he actually understand how many people are out of work through no fault of their own and need some financial help? The man has absolutely no concept of this and doesn't deserve to be in charge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    173.The Wanderer
    I 100% agree with you, this might stop the single girls getting pregnat so they get a house. If under 25s cant afford a house thenn move back in with parents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    If cameron et al, came down from their ivory tower, spoke to real people , they would realise that what relly gets the public goat is the likes of Philip GREENE , Lord(perverse) Ashcroft and the rest of their ilk who squirrel away £billions each year to aviod paying TAX.
    Start with the RICHEST and then you may have the moral highground.
    But thais wont happen as YOU are all in it together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    Meanwhile, Dave, what's the progress on with the 'morally repugnant' issue of 'aggressive tax avoidance' by your chums in the City?
    How's the economy and the jobs market just now?
    More divide and rule tactics. Makes me sick

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    Gettting people back to work requires more than one measure, trim bernefits perhaps but the principle reason some people prefer to sit at home is the fact that so many jobs are paid at appallingly low rates. A further factor at play is the lack of housing especially council housing. The sale of council houses has forced up the rental maket restricting the mobility of the labour force.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    Whet Cameron forgets is that the younger genration are the countries future. We should be helping them not driving more of them over the edge. Look at the teenage suicide rates.
    At 22 I was unemployed. I was given a free college education, housing benefit and a non repayable grant. I have been in employment for 30 years since.
    We owe it to the younger generation to offer them the same breaks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    Some people think the gvt should be nannying all these claimants. Stop telling tales & askin the gvt to fight your battles. Everyone knows one person who claims a benefit under false pretences. If we stood up for ourselves as tax payers at that level people would realise its not the gvt paying but their friends. Only way to protect the truly needy (who we should still be trying to help ourselves.)


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