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 1169.

    Absolutely ridiculous. What about the under 25s who had to grow up in the care system and when they leave care at 18 have no choice but to live off housing benefit until they find employment? A lot of employers employ young people part time which simply doesn't pay enough to live off. He needs to create full time jobs for people which pay enough to live off and/or raise the minimum wage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1168.

    I live in the Labour heartlands and i am in no way Tory or ever will be but I have to say that this is the first sensible thing that has come out of a politicians mouth for a long time. How can it be that me and partner both work full time and struggle on with our son whilst someone next door to me is sitting on benefits equivalent to a job paying £40 per hour and never worked a day in her life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1167.

    I totally agree with him, it does cause resentment and no doubt unfairly in a lot of cases. But people should accept responsibility for their own lives and not expect a free ride. It's unfair to generalise, but it seems to me that a lot of young people now want everything baby, new house, new appliances, new car, foreign holidays etc.
    Live at home and save up, that's what we did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1166.

    This is the first time I've used this site, my ratings are not being taken, is this site fully accurate or do you only accept what you want to?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1165.

    It was Thatcher, of course, who created the benefit dependence culture, by asset stripping the country and destroying whole communities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1164.

    Perhaps when we have finished helping the benefits claimants, we can help the intensive care patients by turning off their ventilators.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1163.

    As housing benefit is available to those under 25 who are working but in low paid jobs isn't it time for there to be a living wage not a minimum wage. The minimum wage is being paid by companies who are asking massive profits. Society is subsiding these companies by paying benefits to make up the low wages they pay to a living wage. That's where changes need to be made.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1162.

    Ah.....the Tories! Don't you just love 'em?
    As ever with such a contentious 'idea', the devil will be in the detail and the actuality will be diluted way below the level of the rallying headline made to appease the right of his party, as the moonwalking Osbourne's crass policies ain't working!
    As ever, they'll let the poor and inadequate pay for the trip to the Tory deficit reduction Nirvana.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1161.

    Austerity hurts, but should hurt all equally.....All Cameron does is make outrageous sweeping statements and caveats these statements with " we need a debate". No actually he was voted in to make the necessary fair adjustments. When with the PM realise that the country has to create an economic environment to grow, create the jobs for all ages only after which, can the benefit can be tackled

  • rate this

    Comment number 1160.

    Labour orientated the economy towards soaking up the worlds unemployed. Thats why there are now major problems of unemployment, wage suppression, under-employment, and housing. The longer UK authorities pander to business interests that demand easily exploited workers the longer these systemic problems will continue. Start penalizing employers that prefer foreigners and start healing the economy.

  • Comment number 1159.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1158.

    There is a need to encourage young people to work and they do need help just like many others. Invest money in rooting out those who do not want to work and cut their benefits. Illness has cut short my working life and I have had to fight for my benefits. This made me so ill at times that I felt like I had been penalised for working most of my life. Since 1973 I have had about 2 years out of work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1157.


    Buy to let greed was and still is artificially propping up property prices making them unaffordable to young people.

    The gov't need to tax BTL investors so they are forced to sell their 'proprety portfolios'. Houses are not objects for the greedy to make money out of, they should be affordable 'homes' for people.

    Your greedy, selfish attitude stinks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1156.

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

    So will you be giving up you own life before you reach that burdensome age? Or would you prefer the state to legislate the choice away?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1155.


    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.
    Any idea what the new system will be? Back to £ s d, or maybe tally sticks (now that was a good system)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1154.

    1053. carbonbasebloke

    Nonsense; we have money for an increase in foreign aid & the ConDems have announced Billions for the development of nuclear weapons.
    If DC put half the effort into closing tax loop holes that he does kicking the less well off, we would be on track.
    The real feeble minded just believe anything they say.
    It's all about a persons priorities & Cameron has made his clear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1153.

    why dont the tories just have a mass genocide on any child born to families on a low income and be done with it
    so unless your over 25 or got a good paying job you cant try and make a life for yourself if a decent living wage was paid to young people the wouldnt have to claim a few quid to pay the fatcat landlords

  • rate this

    Comment number 1152.

    The young unemployed are not the spongers, they dont get this money, they just need a place to live. The spongers are the buy to let landlords who actually do get this money for nothing. DC is appealing to the people who cannot think for themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1151.

    436 Davymac Who should let to renters? Keeping any kind of govt out of housing provision is ESSENTIAL because politicians and their lackeys cant be trusted with our money. Their job should be ensuring good standards and proper behaviour Most buy to let landlords are MUCH better than councils, do repairs and maintenance. Punish the bad ones and encourage the good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1150.

    Gov does NOT take nearly the same pain to recoup tax on the GDP UK does produce. There IS the recession. 'Money' runs on money moving. ES40s put all money back in, via tax-shifting landlords. Unlike K2's - allegedly Mr Barlow - PM says 'not the same' as Mr Carr, whose case is 'morally repugnant'. 4 me, PM just using Office to bwank out his own stuff. Pah.


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