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."

'Dunt'

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."

YOUNG PEOPLE AND BENEFITS

  • 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."

'Suffering'

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
    +218

    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
    +209

    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
    +203

    Comment number 12.

    Yes because there are certainly no under-25s leaving care, being made redundant after several years of full-time work, starting families or needing to claim housing benefit whilst living alone and working without a living wage. None at all. Everyone is supported by their rich parents and have trust funds.

  • rate this
    +197

    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
    +179

    Comment number 73.

    "Earning or learning"

    This from a man who went to Eton but didn't know what magna carta meant.

    This from a man who became Prime Minister without knowing the difference between debt & deficit.

 

Comments 5 of 1988

 

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