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 1069.

    One difference now is -that government policy has destroyed all the jobs for young people in many areas, so they have had to move to areas where jobs exist. Now cameron has destroyed these jobs through his policies he is condemning them to unemployment

  • rate this

    Comment number 1068.

    1053 "The feeble minded haters on this site need to understand one thing."

    How feeble minded is it to notice that the rich are getting tax cuts, and the banks are getting bailouts that utterly dwarf any savings to be made by mounting an onslaught on the poor?

    £5 billion a year goes on the INTEREST on the loans we took out to bail out the financial services industry & thats just the start

  • rate this

    Comment number 1067.

    "I am sure the PM has not thought this through fully"

    Then he should keep his stupid trap shut until he HAS done some thinking, shouldn't he?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1066.

    Which boat will you be on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1065.

    Repulsive, especially the proposed slash of housing benefit, 'stop the resentment' from your buddies by paying you OWN damn bills, and eliminating the massive waste in these departments which dwarfs what they actually give people, y'know, before just making swathes of people homeless.

    Im unemployed, on housing benefit and choking for chance at a proper job, being homeless will NOT help this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1064.

    I can see many more caravans being invested by the young.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1063.

    Class War - Dave's heard of it. Amoral spivs like him have been at war with the poor for millennia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1062.

    Long ago, Thomas Hobbes pointed out we each agree to obey the law as we all benefit from doing so (otherwise we'd each sit outside our caves grasping a big club). Thing is, it's a two way contract. If a group find they are losing out while others are doing well, why should they stick to the law/contract? The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger, it does not bode well. Dave isn't helping.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1061.

    This lot with their policies of hammering ordinary people know they are a one term government. However, they are changing as many things as possible (i.e.NHS & Police privatisation) which will massively benefit them and their friends in big business financially and be very difficult to reverse. They are slashing and burning for the majority whilst feathering their own nests. Scum!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1060.

    I thought this was a coalition between the Tories and the Lib-Dems? Do Cleggy and his mates agree with this nonsense? Or does power-lust trump Morals, Ethics and social responsibility?
    Having lost the major battle for PR, I’d have thought they could at least try and form a barrier against this ever-increasing right-wing nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1059.

    Quite right! why should i be at the mercy of interest rates to keep a roof over my head and going to work everyday for the majority to sit on benefits while buying cigs and drugs? Benefits should never pay anywhere near what a job should. British folk nowadays are the laziest, i want something for nothing mentality, you have ever seen. Imagine this generation was about in WW2, scary!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1058.

    We have been struggling since hubby lost his job (both well over 25), because of my pt wage being £750 a year too much, he was only entitled to JSA and no help towards mortgage, bills etc. We are now in ££££ debt with the mortgage company, could easily lose the house yet we can't sell because of neg equity, up the stream without a paddle.

    Some under 25 don't have family to rely on

  • rate this

    Comment number 1057.

    Unfortunately in the real world not all young people are in a positon to live with their parents for reasons they have no control over.

    If the Government want to cut Housing Benefits for the young who are not in a position to live with parents then they then they should make sure that the economy is in a position to ensure that jobs with sufficient wages to pay rent are available to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1056.

    1008: piratejohn:
    "I am sure the PM has not though this through fully".

    Oh I think he has! Following the recent attacks on him and his policies by Clegg and Co., he knows that he has to say something to appeal to All Good Traditional Tory Voters so that he is seen to be "in charge".
    A capable and honest P.M. shouldn't need to go in for this type of 'media management': it says a lot about him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1055.

    Gets my vote!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1054.

    Stop tax breaks for the wealthy. Stop corporate greed. Stop the drive for profits over people. I happily pay my taxes (and have done for 28 years) to support the welfare state. Please do not destroy it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1053.

    The feeble minded haters on this site need to understand one thing.

    There is NO money left, the government have to make cuts it is not personal.

    Labour have NEVER left the economy in anything but a perilous state, so the alternative is far worse! There are loads of jobs, but a lot of Britain's are lazy and would sooner take benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1052.

    The word to describe this, "Testing the water," is, "Disgusting," plaine and simple. I don't know how disasterous Dave can sleep at night, especially since in three years time he will be asking for their vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1051.

    "Tories" win next general election = Totally scrap welfare system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1050.

    Taking away a safety net for some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable could be one way of tackling this issue.

    Creating Jobs that pay enough for people to survive and tackling ridiculous rents is another.

    From a government mostly made up of people who have never had to support themselves or have proper jobs? Thats Rich.


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