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 1089.

    Cameron could invest more in efficeint tax collection and we could easy recuperate alot more than £2bn. As usual this mindless PM hasn't a clue and prefers to protect his rich friends !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1088.

    The Gov wants people to move to where the jobs are; we're told that there're loads available in the sth-east, but they probably won't pay enough for people to be able to buy or rent without assistance; so no-body moves. They're spongers for expecting housing assistance; they're feckless for not moving to where the jobs are. Heads they lose, tails they lose - isn't the free market brilliant!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1087.

    He wants people to stop resenting those on benefits how about he stops feeding the media negative stories about those on benefits, then that would go against his ideological view of welfare state bad, workhouse and serfs good.
    Bloated filthy rich boy attacking the poor and hiding his own friends immoral actions. Jimmy Carr vs Philip Green anyone? One avoids a few million in tax the other billions

  • rate this

    Comment number 1086.

    I think as a nation we believe in helping the vulnerable but we also expect people to help themselves , we like to believe hard work is rewarded and we dont like waste and dishonesty . When I look at the cost of housing benefit and incapacity and how that has grown in the last 15 years I am shocked . There has to be changes and offer taxpayers good value and try to get people out of benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1085.

    1053. carbonbasebloke
    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.
    You are missing the point. This government doesn't know what it's doing. If the previous government didn't manage to steer this country away from the cliffs, this one doesn't know how to regain control of the rudder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1084.

    at the end of the day every body with a child need a roof simple even if its not fair were not living in the 30s were 12 people share a 2 bed room house , get the jobs back from china ,india, and poland then we can get the younger ones working again .

  • rate this

    Comment number 1083.


    The feeble minded still think that banks lend out savers deposits and the bank of england is owned by the government.

    Both of these things are not true and this is why people will get kicked out of their homes.

    We havent ran out of money, we never had any money to begin with as the british government borrow it from the bank of england instead of printing their own. its a con

  • rate this

    Comment number 1082.

    1044. Verity
    Thank you, I've always been a little bit of a black sheep, but it taught me well, and made me more well rounded person all in all

    in truth I'm very lucky i think, i've had my fair share of problems from drugs to deaths but I have a job i love as a night manager (running a large hotel alone) at 21 and great friends. if i didn't get angry over injustice, i would not deserve anything

  • rate this

    Comment number 1081.

    I can see his point but some young people do need/want to leave home. Setting up student type bedroom with shared bathroom/lounge/kitchen would allow young people who need to to leave home but young people who are working/saving/putting off having kids would not feel short changed by society

  • rate this

    Comment number 1080.

    Withdrawing HB for under 25s is not enough. It should also be withdrawn for single parents that have children while on benefits.
    Child benefit should go too for everyone. Forget about this "if you earn less than 40 odd thousand pounds etc"
    Withdraw all Child Tax Credits and any benefit to "encourage" people to go to work ie Working Tax Credit.
    Finally, merge MPs and public servants pensions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1079.

    :carbonbasebloke, There is NO money left!

    well theres seems enough money left, for foreign aid!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1078.

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

    Just to point out this comment if I may? I'd love to know how the proposals would work at all. My parents and step parents couldn't afford me to live at their houses. All Cameron seems to want to do is bring us back to poor people living in slums because there's no work...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1077.

    OK if suddenly out of work you get support fine.
    Benefits that carry you through life instead of working is not.
    With the thousands of immigrants who find work here & are willing to to take a crack at it,just proves the local`s are lazy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1076.

    How about going after Vodafone and Philip Green...................................?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1075.

    Tax payers will support him those on benefits will not. The later category should not get a vote on how my taxes are spent in my opinion!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1074.

    A good idea. Too many young British are lazy which is why I have to hire foreigners. I am an immigrant and pay my taxes and it goes to people who can't be bothered to find work but expect handouts. In contrast the immigrants are very motivated. I pay more than the minimum wage but get no interest from British. This idea encourages the young to get out to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1073.


    Are people under 25 not people too?

    This is all to do with age and population. Can't look after a 25 year old fit and healthy worker 'cos it's looking after too many 97 year olds that cant see, cant speak, feed through a tube and go to the toilet in an nappy.

    Yep, they lived their life, got their money, now they're hanging around for mine, and my kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1072.

    I agree the Labour and liberals are no better. We deserve a govenment that puts Britain and its people first. But we have this generation of bankers and big buisness lackies who care for nothing but there own agendas. Personally i will vote for any independant or as a protest the BNP rather that these B*****DS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1071.

    Learn from Greece. Mass tax avoidance + overspending = Basket Case Economy.

    We need to close all the tax loopholes and collect the tax that is due FIRST. Get the economy going again so there are jobs being created to get people back to work THEN sort out the benefits system WHERE NEEDED.


  • rate this

    Comment number 1070.

    In Canada, no one can claim benefits unless you have worked and paid into the system for 11 years. Would you call Canada a racist country? Labour's and Tory's weak immigration policy simply imported cheap labour for their 'suck-up' business pals. Even Miliband has confessed they messed it up. Crack down on illegal workers & rogue employers & suddenly, there will be your 3 million jobs.


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