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 1609.

    Who is going to tell the parents that they have to keep their children at home?It is selfish parents that cause this problem as soon as the child benefit ceases and they get no money for the child they want them to leave especially the unemployed young person. David Cameron does not never has and never will share in the lives of young people on housing benefit. It is a life of poverty.Get real PM

  • rate this

    Comment number 1608.

    Regarding the comment about landlords making a fortune out of the recession blame sucessive govs for not providing housing.
    in the north we landlords get nowhere near the amount as thosein the south.I wouldget out but for the decline in house prices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1607.

    Have we got the £6 billion back from Vodafones tax dodging yet? That'd save Cameron three years of punishing some of the most vulnerable in society.

    There will be more suicides because of destitution of the young, and it makes me very angry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1606.

    Most people on benefits want to work, and earn a decent wage to support themselves and their family. However there is just not enough jobs available and many are low paid and part time, hence the huge increase in working tax credit and housing benefit claims from working people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1605.

    What happens to kids between 16 and 25 whose parents don't want them, or they have been abused at home, but can't get work due to mental health problems? All this will do is make more mentally ill young people homeless. If I had had to live with my mother when I dropped out of university I would have killed myself for sure.

  • Comment number 1604.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1603.

    Under 25's are only eligible for the single room rate anyway - thats £68/week in my area can you rent for £282/month. To all the parents out there are you aware this means you have your adult children till they are 35 unless they can get a job paying more that £15000pa If your under 25 just remember according to the tories your feckless suppose that means call me Dave is an adult waste of space

  • rate this

    Comment number 1602.

    Great isn't it, Cameron pushes people around and bullies them with his policies but in 2015 he'll want our vote. Guess what Dave?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1601.

    Oh Dear!
    Mr Cameron we will NOT be diverted from the tax avoidence scams of your buddies no matter how you try to inflame & divide us.
    Why not SCRAP the current 10,000 page long tax rules & produce 1 set of rules that cover everyform of income & in 25 pages or less
    then it would be a harder proposition to avoid tax.
    My 5yr old granduaghter could find loopholes in the current set of rules.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1600.

    "Full Employment? Given us incentive, & we'll deliver!"

    So, Quisling-rein given, result as from pharaohs: Slavery

    We CAN'T give-away AND enjoy, our Equal Freedom

    Teaching 'unequal freedom' a form of child-abuse: on adults a fraud

    To end parasitism, we need effectively to nationalise 'employment'
    - in growing-up, training, working, caring, growing-old - agreeing to all-age Income-Share Equality

  • rate this

    Comment number 1599.

    Better to re-direct money being spent on giving a lazy lifestyle at home to creating jobs for the same people! I have a 25 year old brother-in-law who walked out of his apprentiship because making a brew for the timeserved was below him. He hasn't worked because he thinks he should be paid the same as someone with years of experience! Still after 4 years there is no signs of being forced to work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1598.

    what about the people who are under 25, get married, buy a house as they're working, but then lose both jobs? They've done it right and then through no fault of their own end up needing housing benefit? Are they to be punished too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1597.

    In Cameron's world, people are children to their mid-20s - 'A' levels, gap year, Hons, Masters - but for those who leave school at 16 and get a job, by 24 could have worked for 8 years, married, had kids, have all the responsibilities of an adult. Something happens with their job - I think it's a reasonable expectation that the state provide the safety net it was always supposed to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1596.

    I for one (as a tax payer) welcome this. Why should I contribute to a system where most of the money is going towards young people who have never worked and thus never contributed into the system? People should get jobs and buy/rent their own homes instead of expecting me to pay towards a house they have no intension of paying for themselves (rent or ownership).

  • rate this

    Comment number 1595.

    The real crime here is not the cutting back, its that Labour let this balloon unabated for years and it never occurred to them to either cap rents or limit how much money they were spending..

    We've finally had the apology on Immigration, can we now have it for Iraq and the profligacy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1594.

    Dear Mr. David 'moral' Cameron, why dont you just round up all the working class under 25 adults and drop them into a pool of starved sharks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1593.

    Does Cameron not realise that many young adults have parents who are either dead, divorced and living with other partners who don't want them around, in hospital, in prison or living abroad. Incidentally it's the same people who judge young single adults for not living at home to go back and live with their parents who judge the ones who do live at home for sponging off their parents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1592.

    the whole system is flawed. the whole country is flawed. i am not sure of the answers. it will place greater strain on those already close to the edge. £2bn could be saved by abolishing trident. but undoubtedly there are many who abuse/exploit the system there always will be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1591.

    To everybody who is coming up with ways to fix our economy.


    The economy is to far gone to be saved, our fiat monetary system will do what all fiat systems do and collapse.

    If you want to do something then remove all your savings from the bank and then demand that your government prints its own money instead of borrowing it from the bank of england.

    There is now no easy way out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1590.

    Where on earth have all of these lefty I-pod and smart phone owners and users come from who has bought these things for them. Shame on them for wasting their hard earned benifits(sic) on these luxury items.


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