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 1149.


    Pursue policies that are losing thousands of citizens their jobs and cut their dole money to boot.

    Don't do things by half these tories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1148.

    There's an old tory probverb, "Let's switch off something now!" Jack Regan: The Sweeney

    Some things never change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1147.

    1103. r3loaded

    I'm 23 and I approve of this
    'm living with my parents until I get a job and can afford my own place instead of expecting the government to give me a free house for nothing.
    God forbid you never lose a job or have an accident or become ill.

    Up to now it sounds like Mummy and Daddy have protected you from the real world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1146.

    will people stop blaming the governments for people being on benefits
    it's not the governments fault it's theirs,
    they need to accept jobs that are available and if they require better wages they need to get learning the skills to get those wages
    they need to educate themselves and motivate them selves and they need to do it now
    it's their responsibility to to these things not the states
    work pays

  • rate this

    Comment number 1145.

    "Mmmmm! I better think up someting quick to distract the attention from my "Tax Dodging father". "Oh! I know lets attack the unemployed, vunerable, sick and poor again. That will work".

  • rate this

    Comment number 1144.

    my view is stop all benefits to immigrants that have not paid into the system .

  • rate this

    Comment number 1143.

    If Cameron was more qualified to be a political leader he would have remembered that anti discrimination law applies to adult citizens and therefore the goverment would be in ultra vires if they were to deny 18-24 year olds a benefit that other adults are entitled to on the basis of age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1142.

    Blimey!! How wonderful that we seem to have a prime minister who is completely out of touch with the real world.. This kind of suggestion may have worked 25-30yrs ago but society has changed dramatically, this country is full of broken families who are disjointed and dysfunctional, I fail to see who this kind of avenue could work… THIS HAS DESPERATE WRITTEN ALL OVER IT!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1141.

    I amm all for this as the benefits are obvious. It should curb the reckless behaviour of families who have multiple generations of benfit claimants. When the 25k cap hits their kids would all have moved out and took up precious council flats. This in turn may drive down already excessive rent bubbles caused by greedy buy to let baby boomers who seem quite happy to see all future generations suffer

  • rate this

    Comment number 1140.

    you cant expect a bunch of millionaires cameron and cronies to care about ordinary people its like putting a arsonist in charge of the fire brigade remember thatcher and the poll tax i do british public have short memorys

  • rate this

    Comment number 1139.


    721 HYS is benefit claimants and Socialist worker relics trying to pursue their mission of bankrupting the UK in cahoots with the BBC abusing its position as an unfairly funded State monolith to be a left wing proganda machine...."

    It's either that, or you're an idiot. It's definately one of those two.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1138.

    I suggest.No benefits paid for more than 2 children.Teenage mums go into mother and baby hostels until 25.Controlled rents and fairer wages after all tax credits help employers get away with low wages.All money made in UK taxed at source at PAYE rate unless PAYE.EU migrants only eligible for contributary benefits earned in UK.Social housing only after minimum 20 years working in UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 1137.

    Well of course not having anyone on benefits will stop anybody working resenting them.

    But it is not a solution to simply say we are not going to give a benefit. Success is measured by improving the living conditions in the country which would lead to fewer people needing benefits.

    Or perhaps the government is considering free cyanide tablets for anyone not lucky enough to be a Tory serf.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1136.

    1130. Tommy81
    "fed up of hearing how it is landlords that are to blame. These same landlords who have vast catalogues of property will employ people to manage and maintain them and will put money into the economy. That's what being a productive member of a capitalist society is!"

    Productive by bleeding people dry and forcing them to work 90 hours a week just to feed themselves. Yeah. Idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1135.

    A lovely smokescreen to hide the fact the bedroom cap does not hit Pensioners. So all those under occupied family council houses will still not be available.
    Oh yes, perhaps all the under 25s can go and live with their grandparents instead. A lovely combination of those who like peace & quiet, living with those who prefer late nights and noise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1134.

    I suspect that the savings wouldn't be quite what David Cameron envisages, once we have picked up the bill for the increased number of homeless people (more crime, mental and physical health problems etc.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 1133.

    there's 2.6million out of work because this government has no idea about running a country & has caused unemployment to rise & a double-dip recession. typical of DC to always blame someone else.

    as for cutting benefits for under 25s, Scandalous. another hit on the needy instead of solving the actual cause! i left home @ 16, fell out with parents, didnt spk 2 em in 10yrs. lost job. benefits helped

  • rate this

    Comment number 1132.

    1013. Straight talk

    What a Rude, Ignorant person you are. To use the example of Steven Hawkins. (sic)

  • rate this

    Comment number 1131.


    ...Don't you think 'cigs and drugs' is a bit of an offensive generalization? vices of the unemployed alone? so someone loses their job, they are now on drugs? someone leaves school and can't find a job, BAM! junkie!

    I agree benefits should not pay the same as a job, employers should try offering a fair wage for a fair days work, as opposed to 'the legal minimum they can get away with'

  • rate this

    Comment number 1130.

    @436. Absolute rubbish, fed up of hearing how it is landlords that are to blame. These same landlords who have vast catalogues of property will employ people to manage and maintain them and will put money into the economy. That's what being a productive member of a capitalist society is! Stop passing the buck; they are looking after themselves unlike those they cater for.


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