David Cameron suggests cutting benefits for under-25s


David Cameron mocks "Red Ed and Blue Peter polices"

David Cameron has suggested benefits paid to people under the age of 25 could be cut in an effort to reduce long-term worklessness.

In his speech to the Conservative conference, the prime minister promised to "nag and push and guide" young people away from a life on the dole.

It was later confirmed that the government is reviewing policies for 16 to 25-year-olds.

But Labour accused the Conservatives of a "desperate" lack of ideas.

In his speech, Mr Cameron promised to create a "land of opportunity" by boosting business and reducing reliance on benefits.

He also vowed to improve the education system and told party activists that there was still much work to do to fix the economic "mess" left by Labour.

'Bold action'

The latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions showed 1.09 million people between the ages of 16 and 24 were not in work, education or training.

The problem has proved stubbornly hard to tackle across Europe, with rates of youth unemployment soaring above 50% in Spain.

Start Quote

What will stay in the memory from this conference is the Tories' laser-like focus on the threat from Ed Miliband which they once laughed off.”

End Quote

Mr Cameron argued that action was needed in the UK, saying: "There are still over a million young people not in education, employment, or training.

"Today it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits. It's time for bold action here."

He promised the Conservatives would consider, as they write their manifesto for the 2015 general election, whether "that option should really exist at all".

A Conservative source has told the BBC the manifesto will definitely contain a commitment to end the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for the under-25s, as suggested previously by Mr Cameron.

In his speech, the prime minister criticised reliance on benefits, saying: "Instead we should give young people a clear, positive choice: Go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job.

"But just choose the dole? We've got to offer them something better than that."


He added: "And let no one paint ideas like this as callous. Think about it: with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing?

"No - you'd nag and push and guide and do anything to get them on their way… and so must we. So this is what we want to see: everyone under 25 - earning or learning."


  • 1.09 million people under the age of 25 are not in education, training or employment
  • 410,000 are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, at a cost of about £1.2bn a year
  • 380,000 under-25s receive housing benefit, costing £1.8bn
  • SOURCES: DWP, IFS, Crisis

During the week-long conference in Manchester, the Conservatives have announced plans to make the long-term unemployed undertake work placements if they want to continue receiving benefits.

Mr Cameron did not set out any specific changes regarding under-25s during his 50-minute speech, but Education Secretary Michael Gove offered more detail when questioned on BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

He announced that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was already reviewing the policies in place. He is expected to report his findings by the end of the year.

Mr Gove said: "It is always going to be the case that there are some people for whom you need not so much a nudge as a dunt (a firm blow or stroke) towards the workplace.

"It's important also that we all recognise that welfare is there explicitly to help those people through hard times that it shouldn't become habituated."

He said he would not pre-empt the policy review, adding: "I don't think any of us would want to take away any form of necessary support to young or old vulnerable people."


However, unions warned that any cut in benefits would hurt the worst-off.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Given the government's awful track record of helping young people find jobs, the prime minister's threat to ban the dole for under-25s will simply push hundreds of thousands of young people, including those with young families, even deeper into poverty.

"Young people suffered most in the recession. Today the prime minister has pledged that they will suffer most during the recovery too."

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Labour want the choice at the 2015 general election to be between which party can best help voters with the cost of living. Today the prime minister challenged that analysis”

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The general secretary of the University and College Union, Sally Hunt, said: "What we need is a real plan at local and national level which provides sustainable and secure employment opportunities for young people and access to education which is useful and mind-broadening.

"Cheap headlines about lazy youngsters or cutting their benefits are no substitute for a strategy which is on the side of young people and allows them to realise their potential."

A Labour spokesperson said: "This is an empty and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that there was absolutely nothing in David Cameron's speech to deal with the cost-of-living crisis facing families.

"If the Conservatives really wanted to get young people off benefits, they'd be backing Labour's youth jobs guarantee, giving young people who've been out of work for over a year a job they must take or lose benefits."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    "Kick the youth to get elected by the OAP's, the ones who really 'never had it so good'. The ones who are by far the largest drain on the welfare budget but are seemingly untouchable.
    Means tested Pension would save billions but heating the holiday home might then need small sacrifices"

    You are as bad in your way as the OAPs who support the Tories are - Divide and Rule

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    401: "after all we can still borrow and carry on regardless"

    Or - and this won't make ANY sense to you right-wingers, but it's true nevertheless - we can ensure there's enough money moving around the economy that it actually starts to IMPROVE.

    And you do that by NOT taking spending power out of everyone's pockets like this cretin is hell-bent on doing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    Unfortunately this seems like a One size fits all"solution so beloved of the labour miscreants so intent on Socialising UK since 97,that they levelled downand made common sense tolerance unfashionable.
    Maybe theDept of Work & Pensions could get under 25s to send in a CV and see if there were any bright people languishing who could possibly replace some of the occupants of a ministry or two?

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    There are no jobs because of the great pink elephant in the room with a huge sign on it saying 'all of the jobs have gone to the bleedin 3rd World', and no one notices it or acknowledges it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    Compare it to labour's youth job guarantee scheme take a job on chain gang picking litter or loose benefits!

    I think the left doth protest too much!

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Final salary pensions no longer exist! Means test the pension, it would save billions. Why should someone who is getting a pension far in advance of the average wage get a state pension?

    All this talk of you paid into it, well we are all taking a hit apart from you. You rich pensioners, you never had it so good through your whole lives!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    Brilliant! Turnout among young voters has never been lower, but this ridiculous idea will drive youngsters to the polls in their thousands. Go for it Dave!

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    wait until the insane/cynical/super-dim-wit Help-to-buy scheme bursts and we will see some serious fun. We are talking about 95%, YES, 95% mortgages guaranteed by govnmt money. There are folks out there with NO MONEY buying properties with the scheme. This stupidity is going to hurt but do they care? No, as it is always the half-wits who pay anyway.
    I have never seen so much idiocy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    By the time a lot of these kids leave school its usually too late.They have often wasted their school years and have problems holding serious conversations. When confronted by potential employers they answer in monosylables and mumble their way through interviews. They have already been failed by parents and the education system and have lost the will to help themselves.Tragic but true

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    He has already put most of them on the scrap heap with his policies so I suppose making sure they migrate out of the country is his goal who knows what goes on in his blue boy brain Grant Schnapps managed to answer no questions on youth last night

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    He's making a good point "we have got to OFFER them MORE than a life on benefits" OFFER education, apprenticeship or work.
    Quite how is he going to provide or influence the provision of those options once the Tories have privatised everything from schools (academies&free schools) to public sector (outsourcing and selling off everything possible). A lot of rhetoric which only means cuts not offers

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    Cameron and his out of touch Tory rich boys think taking benefits from under 25s will make them find work but in reality you will just end up with massive youth homelessness, and a sharp increase in crimes like muggings, our prisons are already full to the brim. Don't any of you remember the 1980s? We have been down this road before, it did not work then and won't work now! There will be riots too

  • Comment number 416.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    The nasty party is back. So here are some questions that Dave must answer what about disabled people? What about children who have been abused by their parents? what about a person who has had a job lfound a flat but then gets made redundant do they have to move back into their paernt home. Oh no because they have had to move because they had a spare room and had to downsize to a smaller flat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    38 Minutes ago

    oh no lefty labour out in force here, do nothing about syria, do nothing about benefit cheats. Do you guys do anything about anything or just sit at home on benefits moaning all day long.


    Yes, we do a lot about tax cheats and taxpayer funded bankers handouts, unfortunately Cameron and chums like to brush that under the carpet, what what.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    so, why is the generation with the best education struggling to get jobs? Why have we not all been replaced by a new generation of super-intelligent university graduates?

    Because there are no jobs, despite what the government says and companies are not prepared to take a risk on new talent over experience.

    So, what has the Gov't done to make new jobs - especially for the youth sector?

    Sod all

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    Well done Dave there is clear water between the parties now and it all looking Blue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    @387. Yeah, you tell them. Clearly, Mr Daily Wail, you've identified and interviewed all of the 1m + youth unemployed to determine why they haven't got a job yet, enabling you to neatly encapsulate them in your neat little stereotype? Hmmm? No, thought not...

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    Why not! they have cut the poorest to the bone and the food banks and soup kitchens just get more customers!

    Riots coming soon I think!

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    He knows he can show his true colours now as he won't win in 2015. All of the vileness will spill out. He doesn't believe in the welfare state,the NHS ,any kind of public ownership or any notion of collective responsibility.It is to be hoped that the public not only reject him in 2015 but reject the madness that is modern Tory politics.


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