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 449.

    Housing benifit is paid to the landlord not the benift claiment.

    Smoke and Mirrors again from posh boy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    The culture of something for nothing has been around a long time - it ecourages syetealin per se: "something of the back of a wagon" recieving stolen goods. Working while recieving benefits and not paying tax on the earnings "on the fiddle" It is illegal and rampant and as long as benefits are at the level they are it will prosper, it has not got to pay for sciving, as that is what it does, stupid

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    It does make me wonder how a large number of the population in this country are un-employed when many hard working eastern europeans are finding work over here and working hard,even on low wages? The culture by too many british born in this country is to turn down low paid jobs and just reach out for the welfare option! Kepp cutting the welfare bill Cameron!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    He knows he won't get a second term so he intends to continue to lob grenades into each room he vacates. Just go will you Flashman there's a good chap?

    Roll on the 2015 General Election. The problem is that these people, all of them are a part of the problem consequently they can never provide the solution only a re-packaged ideology. They all make me sick every last one of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    Cameron has shown his true colours this past week & what a nasty, little vindictive man he is.

    Singles out Jimmy Carr as he thinks he's an easy target, yet refuses to criticise Tory supporters who are doing the same thing.

    Now another desperate move in an attempt to gain waning support he again targets the weak in society.

    This petty man has no grounds to criticise others on their morals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    This Conservative government keeps saying they want to make work pay. Well you don't do that by making some of the lowest level of state benefits in Western Europe even worse! Dare I suggest you significantly increase the salaries of those in work to a level where benefits are not required? This lot always seem to attack those at the bottom of society. Well they are Tories so to be expected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    There is a simple solution to this, if you pay into the system, you can claim out of the system, stands for benefits, NHS, even look at government subsided grants for new business and training - my wife is from Vietnam - her family laughs about UK - AKA Treasure Island - with all the hand outs, the system is broken and so open to abuse - its even simpler over there - you don't work, you don't eat!

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    If he were to do this, I'd expect him to cut taxes by a lot, eg he could scrap income tax like a real conservative would.. Oh wait it's David Cameron that will never happen

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    Its time for all economic migrants to go home,especially the ones who are bleeding us dry who are not working and costing us a fortune by taking the the houses that become available instead of the British people coming first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    I very much doubt Housing Benefit and benefits in general are the first choice of many people.

    Cutting this essential lifeline will drive more people onto the streets. Would the tory party be proud of that?

    If they want to save money try eliminating tax fiddles which many top tories I suggest derive major benefits from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    429.Bernhardt Levene

    So true - I know many a person who decided to vote Tory & not Labour at the last election because the issue that obthered them most was New Labour's constant spin.....

    ......only to now be utterly gutted that the new PM is ever worse for spin that Tony Blair & his team were......

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Why should anyone object to these proposals,it always used to be like he is saying,young people lived at home until they married or could afford to pay their way in society.Too many are getting benefits which could be avoided it real family life were to be re-introduced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    why are there so many people on benefits in the fist place . because we have a government that buys trains from germany and japan etc makes british workers unemployed and lets british companies do there production abroad so they can make more profits, also being domiciled abroad can save them billions in tax, but it's ok to kick the down trodden as they can't hit back OH TO BE PART OF THE CLIQUE

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    What Mr Cameron and others conveniently choose to forget, is that most of the housing benefit is actually paid to buy to let landlords who, in the south east in particular, are amassing small fortunes in the wake of this recession. The housing benefit bill could be substantially reduced by capping the amount of rent landlords are permitted to charge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.


    I am retired with a small private pension that is just enough to remove me from any benefits. The pension is taxed. Please explain to me why I should pay other peoples rent.
    It's what's known as civilisation. Those who have income enough to pay tax pay tax, simples. But, like you, I wish times were not so hard. But remember we're all in this together (someone should remind Dave).

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    Well thought Mr. PM. Recently my work place offered a trainee job for 23 yrs old with 5 months work experience since he left school at 17 yrs. The offer was £750 per month for six months probation and then increase. Declined to accept and the direct answer was better off without working and claiming benefit!

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    The Tories believe that everyone in this country lives in nice little middle-class communities and that if youngsters are in trouble they can turn to their parents for help or those parents can be held to account for their children's criminal acts. Until the Tories tailor these policies to reality and not the beliefs of Daily Mail readers the most vulnerable will suffer while the rich avoid taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    While I think too many people receive housing benefit, age discrimination is not acceptable especially from the government.

    Under 25s, already in breach of the Equality Act 2010, are denied working tax credits. Not to mention the disgusting removal of the 10% income tax band.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    One thing that this ConDem gov have done successfully is to demonise those on benefits. I have a couple two doors down, he is a injured young serviceman. His wife cares for him and his two children, full time job in my books. But for him this country could be in a right mess, yet this gov have demonised him because he is on benefits and under 25.
    It's this gov who are the demons, the nasty party

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    Wandering which of Mr. Cameron's black and white scenarios I conform to as a 24 yr old, student (Physics bsc (I just like to show off XD )) and a single father. Without housing benefit we would be homeless as the inflated rents are too much for any low income persons.


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