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 409.

    Ah the good-old, predictable Tories. always the carrot for the rich, the stick for the poor, and the middle-class turkeys voting for Christmas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

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

    It's not a signal, it's the truth.

    When wages are so low that you often cannot pay your most basic of bills despite working a full weeks work what is the point in working?

    Ensure employers pay a living wage and you'll see benefit claims drop like a lead balloon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    @382 That sounds rather racist to me. There are plenty of hard working British people too.

    It's a real shame that our media attacks the lack of opportunities, calling on the government to do more, employers to do more, new legislation and the like... But then create the "British workers are lazy wastrels" stereotype.

    Lazy people are lazy. No nationality holds a monopoly on lazy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    Could be good for the police force in England

    More poverty and homelessness
    =more crime
    =More violence
    =More riots
    =More court time
    =More jail time

    =more leverage for good wages and conditions for policemen and the judicial system

    Cameron might as well move the cash from the housing budget to the police, judiciary and criminal support services budget on Monday

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    I'm not sure what needs to be done to tackle the welfare bill but it has got to be said that this country can't support it anymore. I put this down to an ageing population, more lone parent families and people who have come to this country for asylum. I don't think it has anything to do with under 25s and it seems they are suffering as a result of the above.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    The Tories want to fuel the resentment of those working towards people on benefits - classic divide and rule. Funny m class subsidised on everything from private health, private education, public schools charitable status, tax loophole rich -£125 b a year! Middle class welfare good, w class welfare bad? Tory millionaires given £40k - people take eyes off rich. Labour needs fair system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    I'm all for reducing benefits and dependency, but oh god, why is a penny of indigenous benefit being cut before immigrants?

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    Yeah , great idea Camoron . We can then send all of the homeless under 24's round to one of your houses to live .

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    No! I am getting sick of this man Gary Barlow, Rebecca Brooks, he is the one with the lazy selfish issues.
    There are few jobs available for the proportion of people unemployed, unemployed people do not need to be punished, most of them want to work, this is an ignorant and ridiculous proposal.
    I really want Nick Clegg to grow some balls and kick this idiot into touch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    Cameron seems to think that everyone in a 'council' house never works. Please take your head out of your ar*e.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    Further note to Cameron, you may have made an error of judgement, percentage of voters under 25 years likely to vote in 2015 elections set to rise.
    Hopefully against the tory party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    Start with Eu migrants, who are not eligible in their own country for housing, health and unemployment benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    What about those that feel resentment towards people dodging taxes, politicians fiddling expenses, bankers and their bonuses for bankrupting the country.
    Stop dodging the real problems Cameron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    It would be great if the government saved this money and then invested it in providing those in need with a opportunity to work, but I know things aren't always that simple. But something does need to be done. I work in a high school I children are well aware that if they have a child, that they can leave home and the govt will provide a house of their own!! Surely there's something wrong there?

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    Not everyone under 25 can live with their families as some people are suggesting. Not everyone's parents own (or rent) a house big enough for all their adult children (my mum naturally rented a tiny flat once we all went to Uni and then got jobs). So if we lost our jobs for whatever reason, having been paying taxes, why shouldn't we be entitled to the same help until we secured another job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    Just another example of how out of touch with the real world this guy is. Not everybody has the benefit of living with their parents untill the age of 25, many individuals come from broken homes through one reason or another. Yes I agree the benefit system is being abused but this will only cause the most vulnerable in our society to be homeless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    David Cameron should just stick to being a PR man and start devolving powers to local areas to invest more in education, and put more government money into job creation schemes in areas of employment shortage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    I regularly have to go past the local job centre and it is noticeable as I pass that most of the people outside are smoking and are using mobile phones. They then presumably drive back to their council houses and watch Sky television for the rest of the week. As a pensioner I cannot afford these luxuries and if i ask for help I am told that I do not qualify. Moral avoid work like the plague.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    Perhaps the Act could be named the - Hoy, Car & Bar low Act

    The £2bn saved could pay for a Grand Lodging to house the ejected under 25’s & the evicted landlords. Maybe DC could reinstate the PropertyServicesAgency to give Halliburton the contract. Simples.

    After all no one wants to see strange signals being sent, do they ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    If you are wondering why your government would rather see people homeless than build more council houses then spend 3 minutes of your time watching this video and you may realize that something is going [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator].You are going to live through the biggest financial disaster the world has ever seen. The central bank own this country and know exactly what is coming


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