Under-25s to be banned from claiming benefits in new Tory plans
In this morning’s closing speech at the Tory party conference, prime minister David Cameron outlined plans to exclude under-25s not in work, education or training from being able to claim benefits.
Cameron told activists: “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…. [should] that option still exist at all?”
He pre-empted criticism of the measures, imploring opponents not to deem the policy as “callous,” asking: “Would you dream of just leaving [your children] 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.”
The move would be extremely controversial, as it would see young mothers stripped of their benefits, amongst others. Critics rounded on the policy, with the University and College Union (UCU) general secretary, Sally Hunt, retorting: “David Cameron said he would nag and push his children to help them on their way. But would he, or any of us, push our kids towards dead-end jobs or irrelevant training?”
With over a million young people not in work, education or training, Hunt warned: “Simply labelling them lazy and threatening to take away their benefits will not solve the problem…. there are simply not the opportunities available.”
Research carried out by ComRes earlier this year revealed that 88% of those not in education, employment or training aspire to be in work, but a third believed they had “no chance” of ever getting a job.
The Trades Union Congress has also deeply criticised the potential policy, which already seems to have been tempered by some Tory party officials. The TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady responded to this news saying: “Banning under-25s from claiming benefits, irrespective of whether there are jobs and training places available locally, would have impoverished hundreds of thousands of young people, including many with young children.”