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 448.

    I have a 26 year old at home with a degree and two years full time voluntary service behind her she has been at home for the last 2 years searching for work. She says she has done everything Cameron says and still has no job. She has not been relying on the State the bank of dad has been housing and feeding her because she does not want to sign on. She says the PM is an idiot I agree

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    From the tyoe and tone of the anouncements at this years conference you might start to think they are deliberately trying to spoil their chances at the next election.
    Do they know something bad is comming and do not want to be in power when it happens?

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    This is not OUR fault. It is the Tories, the global financial meltdown and the bankers fault. Don't wish for a generational war - don't be fooled by this divisive tactic.

    You are either a believer in social cohesion (Left Wing) or a believer of selfish / user / elitist methods (Right Wing).

    I'm 57 but will stand and be counted when it comes to defending the under 25's and the youth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    The Tories are slavish adherents to a system that creates a market for labour and accepts a certain level of unemployment is inevitable. Are they now saying that they do not want to provide a safety net for thise unfortunate enough to be at the wrong end of this system? It certainly sounds like it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    not all people under 25 unemployed are out of work by choice. There are few jobs around and the Tories have been in government for a few years now and things have barely improved. Of course the tories know nothing about working class because they were born with silver spoons in their mouths and spent tens/hundreds of thousands of pounds on their education

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    This isnt going to do much for the mobility of the young to move and find low paid work that they can only do with the help of housing benefit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    How can the young actually come off benefits if there are no PAID opportunities? Especially those of us on the outskirts of London where living costs are high and opportunities are few and far between?

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    So under 25s are as evil as unemployed and mentally ill people .

    Cameron and co have fleeced it so there own children will live in a second home bought by there parents , paid for by us .

    We are not merely work units to be measured by production rates.
    The worship of money and profit is crass.

    Tax the rich make Britain fair

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    'Land of opportunity' if you come from a wealthy well connected background. Its beyond comprehension that DC thinks this will get him re-elected. Dave, you need to listen to the public and get the banks and bankers sorted out, stop MNC's and the rich tax avoidance, create a more balanced economy, make companies pay real wages and pensions. If you don't sort this out there will be riots soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    What a stupid, satanic, party! Until this party rejects Thatcherism and all the misery that it has caused, Britain with a Tory MP faces a very grim future, Why are these millionaire front-benchers even drawing a salary that they clearly do not need? How do they sleep at night, knowing that the poor are getting poorer, and the rich, richer. What has all this to do with social progress? Shame!

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    I was surprised and disappointed to see the stereo typical pictures of young "neets" who appeared look like the terrible hooded young man who has randomly murdered a young girl today - what are you trying to say? - are you right? - I think not!!! For shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    here a idea idiot forget stopping benifits for just under 25s try doing it for everyone dont just pick on one genaration make it fair right across board and yes im 31 on benifits caring for my 73yr old father who is also on benifitsmake us a 3rd world country like your trying so hard to do ever way we a screwd with u in power

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    I do think it is right to restrict benefits to under twenty fives but they must do more to create jobs .they live at home with there mum's and dads supporting them which makes them lazy .

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    Tories out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    This worries me. At 25 I had been to university, had a full time job, was married, pregnant with my first born and had a mortgage. If someone in similar circumstances lost their job under this idea, would they get benefits until they found a new job, or would it be "under 25, go away". Not all under 25 are children able to live with Mum and Dad!

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    what a scumbag
    they want high unemployment to force people to accept low wages and bad working conditions so they can increase profits and then they put all the blame on the victims of this

    makes me feel sick

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    Let's face it everybody does their very best to manage down the unemployment figures. But do it properly by providing meaningful work for people, useful training and real opportunity not negative number filching. Nobody believes the figures any more anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    Of course hard work pays - both public and private sectors are key to deficit reduction and contributing to a vibrant economy.

    But there will always be unemployment whilst people are forced into going online. Defend jobs and services! So-called new technology destroys jobs..

    Also don't conscript our youth into going to university.

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    Eventually, something is going to give. People can only take so much before they no longer care. If we keep demonising and attacking the poor, we will see a re-occurrence of August 2011, except on a much larger scale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    We only need to scratch the surface of the stupidity of this comment.

    Supported living for young people is not free. It is paid for buy Housing Benefit. Section 20 care leavers, who local authorities have a statutory duty to rehouse, are more often than not in receipt of Housing Benefit...

    Cameron is so far detached from reality it's quite scary.


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