Yesterday we saw David Cameron in his true colours. Not the nice,
“chillaxing”, middle of the road guy he wants us to see but the nasty
right winger who is quite prepared to hurt our young people if he
thinks there are a few votes in it for his party.
The real world that many young people face does not allow them to stay
with Mum and Dad while they save up to get married. They are in care
and at 18 will have to start making their way in the world with no
family support at all to fall back on.
Either David Cameron doesn’t know that or he doesn’t care.
Take a look at Shelter’s comments with which I am in complete agreement.
This was the start of the Tory programme for the next election and we
will need to be ready to defend our young people from this political
Some of the things he suggested yesterday were:
• Stopping most under-25s claiming housing benefit. Cameron said the
government was spending almost £2bn a year on housing benefit for this
group, and that 210,000 people aged 16 to 24 were social housing
tenants. Many of them could live with their parents, he suggested.
• Cutting benefits for the under-21s. Cameron said that in Holland the
benefit system does not normally help the under-21s. When it does,
benefits are set at a low level, and parents are expected to top them
• Uprating benefits in line with wage inflation instead of price
inflation when price inflation is much higher. Cameron said in
September benefits went up by 5.2% (inflation) even though workers
were getting much lower pay rises. “Given that so many working people
are struggling to make ends meet we have to ask whether this is the
right approach,” Cameron said.
• Cutting benefits for the long-term unemployed. Cameron said that
when the Americans decided to time-limit benefits in the 1990s,
case-loads fell by more than 50%. “Instead of US-style time-limits –
which remove entitlements altogether – we could perhaps revise the
levels of benefits people receive if they are out of work for
literally years on end,” he said.
• Cutting housing benefit further. The government has already
introduced a benefit cap to stop a relatively small number of families
claiming exorbitant sums in housing benefit. But Cameron said this
would still allow people to receive up to £20,000 a year in housing
benefit. “Surely we should ask if it’s fair that the maximum amount
that you can get on housing benefit is set at a level that only the
top five per cent of earners would otherwise be able to afford,” he
• Stopping people from claiming child-related benefits if they have
more than a certain number of children. Cameron did not say how many
children, but he quoted the number of people on income support with
three or more children (150,000) and four or more children (57,000),
implying benefits could be capped at two children.
• Requiring more single parents to work – or at least to prepare for
work. Cameron said the government was already forcing single parents
to look for work when their youngest child reaches five, not seven as
before. But, with free nursery care available from the age of three,
there was a case for changing the rules again, he said. “Even if
there’s no scope for actually working, there should at least be for
preparing to work: getting down to the job centre; writing a CV;
learning new skills.”
• Imposing tougher restrictions on people claiming benefits if they
have never worked than if they have paid tax and national insurance
for years before submitting a claim.
• Stopping teenagers from claiming benefits as soon as they leave
school. Cameron said he wanted to ask “if it’s right that people
continue to have the option of leaving school and going straight onto
benefits, without ever having contributed to the system in any way.”