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."

Start Quote

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”

End Quote

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 1987.

    So rather than take care of its own children here is a government that prefers to take aim at them shooting down these fledglings before they are barley able to fly in some perverse tweed-wearing duck hunt.

    May 2015, if the blue-blooded damp squids have managed to avoid their very own Bastille day bunting shall line the streets of our nation and young shall drink with old in celebration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1986.

    He's either deliberately sabotaging the Cons chances in the next election, I can only imagine because they know they've completely messed things up & it's all going ...up in a few years or he's actually slightly mad.
    Even many in the Tory party see how damaging these policies are to society and do nothing to help the struggling economy.
    Listen to the muted applause today

  • rate this

    Comment number 1985.

    I find this completely unfair there are a lot of young people who are genuinely educated and are actively looking for work. i.e graduated uni students. nowadays no experience = no job and no job= no experience.

    so by cutting jsa for those who are genuinely looking that is destroying their morale and also in a tough economy how does that make things fair. .

  • Comment number 1984.

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

  • Comment number 1983.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1982.

    The grand old Dupe of York.
    He had so many men.
    Problem was he had no work for his men.
    so he marched them up to the dole queue then he sent them home again.
    His men were never happy his men were never paid.
    They tired of all his promises, tired of his charade
    They sacked him, put someone else in charge
    Then they all got paid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1981.

    That is an absolutely disgraceful broad stroke reply as I was not born here but have lived here the majority of my life & my parents never claimed the dole etc.
    I now own a company which employs a work force of 62 British people from different colours & religions but just out of interest how many people do you provide jobs at above min wage like I do ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1980.

    This is just politics for the miserable daily mail reader. Cynical nonsense. what a miserable choice we have in this country. either right-wing xenophopes like the tories, or the need a dose of reality, leftwing student politics of labour, not to mention Clegg talking complete Clegg. No wonder Farage and co are on the march and people north of the border take a non-entity like Salmond seriously...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1979.

    My son is 19 and took an apprenticeship with a major company, meaning he had to move away. He is struggling badly financially. he is working hard to pay his bills and faces the prospect of needing a second job to keep his head above water. Mr Cameron, surely this is the sort of person you should be helping? Will you do so whilst hitting those that choose not to work?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1978.

    I love this Orwellian dictatorship we are blindly living in....:-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 1977.

    1934. Vinny 'If governments invested in JOBS in the first place'

    Give this man a biscuit .....
    I understand the need to get people to look for jobs but you have to create more in the first place
    through loans to good new companies or through funding successful research perhaps also bring back publicly funded older industries to compete with goods imported even if they run at a loss

  • rate this

    Comment number 1976.

    This is kicking those that are least able to defend themselves.

    The working class and their parents have little if any money to help if the dole is cut.

    This is targeting the people in society who are least able to recover if they lose their job or can’t find one.

    These people do not have wealthy parents nor have they gone to schools like Eton or have easy access to mates with jobs for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1975.

    It's a nice thought, just totally unrealistic. Create worthwhile opportunities for the young they will clamour for the chance to work . This is a Conservative led Coalition and Conservatives don't create they only cut opportunities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1974.

    Hopefully the present government will be joining at least for a short time, the ranks of the unemployed they have helped to create with their atrocious, mindless, divisive and incompetent policies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1973.


    Don't forget every Police officer, nurse and teacher too. My only concern is when the Tory hoarders lose then Milliband gets the helm......dear god what then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1972.

    Could always just shoot anyone that reaches 16, then there will be no problem.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1971.

    Must just be for the sound bite, no politician can seriously tell a new voter, the next 7 years your'e not entitled to any monetary state help. They think everyone under 25 is a labour voter. What about parents, so called strivers, many Tories & swing voters. Not only got austerity for themselves, but no state help for grown children. Lib Dems will love this, they will be power brokers yet again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1970.

    I'm not political and have no party preference but if I was being given befits (and I have in the past) I would be happy to do something in return (if possible). To make our country great again will takes us all to do something how ever great or small.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1969.

    I am under 25 and I am unemployed. I have both a degree and a masters, and I even taught in China for 6 months in an effort to improve my situation. I have struggled through temporary positions for 2 years since I left education. I hate being on the dole, and it makes me feel worthless to go and ask for money, but how else do I pay my parents rent? They cannot afford to support me


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