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 1129.

    1099.geoffreyj - ".....The idea is to stop the scroungers who choose not to work, single girls who get pregnant by choice to get a council house...."

    So basically you are saying that a baby born to a single girl should live on the streets because their Mum made a bad choice...???

    Why should the new born baby be punished...???

  • rate this

    Comment number 1128.

    it is time they looked elsewhere at cutting the welfare costs. The waste in the entire section is ludicrous. Witness the transition to Employment Support Allowance, much vaunted to cut costs. Well when patently unfit people are ruled fit to work and then the state has to defend an appeal, just how much money is wasted this way! 67% of all decisions to refuse the benefit are overturned at appeal!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1127.

    I am 22, I am Unemployed, I do Pay Taxes when I am in work, not for very long at a time as i am left to go into the factory's under agency's earning my wage for just sending me. I tried to get a better education the government wants me to do an apprenticeship but wont help top up my wage (£3 PW after rent c/t).Mr Cameron is going to force 1000000 people onto the streets. Age Discrimination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1126.


    You are also missing the point, you have fallen for the garbage the government feed you. THE GOVERNMENT ARE NOT USELESS. They are just dragging out the collapse of our economy till the central bank say let it go and they flick the switch to our new monetary system.

    They want you to think they are useless.

    The central bank owners run this country.

    The reset is coming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1125.


    You seem to be of the opinion that those on benefits are somehow hoarding the benefits they receive. Some of these "shirkers" as you call them were previously employed and for reasons I do not know of are on hard times. The real parasites are those that Hoard money in offshore tax havens and pay as little tax as they can get away with. These are the people you should investigate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1124.

    If I were feeling very cynical, I might think this was either another overkill 'proposal' to soften the blow of a slightly smaller cut or that DC knows he won't get in at the next election (and possibly is setting up another government to fail so he can have another go later?).

  • rate this

    Comment number 1123.

    Tax breaks for the under 25's?

    Well it's only fair if they don't have the same access to benefits that the rest of society have

  • rate this

    Comment number 1122.

    Sow the seed and reap the whirlwind. Freeloading in the good times has fostered anger in those honouring the contract & now those stripped of choice are feeling the chill.

    Welfare state has to be cut but how? View the last 30 years as an oil funded blip and returning to the previous status quo seems sensible, if you protect those without the option. But I'd start with child benefits for unborn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1121.

    young people under 25 to lose h/b,great idea dave,why not cut h/b for everyone under 65?i mean according to this logic everybody should be working thanks to the private sector boom????????????somebody from planet tory should come to planet reality and see whats really going on!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1120.

    To all those whining about Camerons comments - if you feel so strongly about 'the givaway welfare state' you pay for it. This country cannot afford this sort of stupidity any more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1119.

    Long-term youth unemployment up 78% since 2000 compared to 50% across age groups, their average wages down when others' up (recent reports), massive debt due to tuition fees, no hope of getting on the property ladder and now they are to be punished for the government's failure to regulate profiteering landlords. Not everyone has rich parents who can bail them out - clearly news to Cameron & co.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1118.

    1060.Big John the Red
    "I thought this was a coalition between the Tories and the Lib-Dems? Do Cleggy and his mates agree with this nonsense?"
    Cameron's trying to be (too) clever, he is playing to the Tory voters and his party far right wingers, but Clegg and the LibDem's can't complain because this policy is part of Tory plans for AFTER the next general election.

    Fat chance DC your'e..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1117.

    Superficially this may seem ok. But (this may seem a silly question) how is it going to work in practice?

    It needs to be tweaked! How can the work ethic be improved? Shouldn't there be an adequate reward to work rather than being paid not to do so? After all, if there's an incentive not to work, then this will be the best route for many. Or to earn money via the easiest or laziest way?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1116.

    What Cameron should be doing is to accelerate provision of affordable housing, regulate landlords to ensure affordable rents and crack down on employers who pay exceedingly low wages which mean people can't afford the rents and have to seek housing benefit.

    How on earth will we cope with a predicted population of 70million, if we don't get a grip on these things

  • rate this

    Comment number 1115.

    Considering the conservatives got most votes last time round, this place must be a magnet for free loading lefties who think handouts is the way to go.

    They blame everyone but themselves for everything.

    I grew up on an estate, lived with Mum longer than I wanted and dug myself out with hard work, no moaning and no free house.

    Do us a favour. Emigrate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1114.

    They may not be a "one Term Government"!, has no-one noticed that the Constituency Boundaries are being changed again? They will split up "Wards" with opposition votes and by default make their own Wards more predominatly Tory. Has no-one heard of "Rotten Boroughs" and Men's suffrage for the Vote, way before women's suffrage. They will disenfranchise all ordinary voters by this manipulation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1113.

    Sort the economy out Dave and housing benefit will all but disappear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1112.

    I am 22, I cannot get an apprenticeship after the government wont top my wage up. I am forced into temporary jobs, I AM A TAX PAYER, I don't have kids (if I did I could do my apprenticeship???). I have no where else to go, so what's your move Mr Cameron throw 1000000 under 25s onto the streets. there would be bloodshed, I don't condone it but what other option will we have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1111.

    Under 25s are generally on a low income and need assistance with rent, yes more youngsters could stay at home with their parents, but what if the parents cannot afford to still support their 24 year old, and what about the teens who don't have a good family environment, and the teens coming out of the care system what will happen to them if they cannot find a well enough paid job Or a job at all

  • rate this

    Comment number 1110.

    There are not enough jobs to go around. Benefits are necessary to redistribute wealth from those that have jobs to those that don't. The problem is made worse by too many EU foreigners occupying jobs that do exist. The next problem is the dreadful fall in educational standards, whereby (for example), the vast majority of current A level passes would equate to a fail by 1980 standards.


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