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Tories shift their plans on benefits for under-25s

2 October 2013

Although David Cameron’s speech was deliberately light on policy, it did contain one hint about a manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election. The Prime Minister told the conference that ‘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.’

The party is clear this afternoon that this will be a fully fleshed-out pledge in the Conservative manifesto, and that it is linked to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood’s review of training and education for under-25s. The benefits that could be docked for young people who aren’t ‘earning or learning’ include housing benefit and job seekers’ allowance.

This is not a full ban for all under-25s from claiming benefits: it is a sanctions policy whereby if you do not take up an offer of work or training, you will lose your benefits. It is more nuanced now than the original plan to remove housing benefit from the under-25s full stop that David Cameron floated in June 2012. I reported back in December that an internal party consultation with members had found that while they backed the principle, they were worried about care leavers and other claimants who didn’t have family to fall back on. If the party has decided it is going to use these benefits as a sanction tool, then it can’t very well remove them from under-25s across the board. So the policy has shifted a great deal.

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  • saffrin

    About time too.
    For too long our Governments have made bone idleness pay.
    Free house, free food, free living, all funded by the hard done taxpayer, whom I’m sure will see Cameron’s policy as pay back.
    It beggars belief, considering the shortage of affordable housing, singles under 25 are still considered eligible for social housing.
    The No1 critiria for which should be proof of a reliable work history.

  • drydamol1


    Totally unanswerable question at present but on Blair’s
    previous form the same writing was on the wall.There is always ‘method in the madness’
    meaning there is always another agenda behind the actual face of an issue.

    The Government Propaganda Campaign to gain Public Support
    against Benefit Claimants,to stoop so low means that the Policy on its own could
    not stand up to rigorous scrutiny.

    ‘Benefit Scroungers’ -most working people are on Working
    Tax Credit because wages belong in the Victorian Era.

    But that was only the initiation of a Broader Campaign to
    include the Genuine Sick & Disabled.Then creeps in the Bedroom Tax and then
    Universal Credit all under the big Austerity Plan.

    Where were the Tories prudent spending initiative when in
    opposition,More Tories voted for the Iraq War than Labour MP’s and don’t forget
    any major spending plan was also backed by Tory Votes in the Commons,the Tories
    agreed with Labour spending plans otherwise they wouldn’t have been passed.Did
    they suggest Labour look into benefit fraud.

    Have we ever been had,stealthily the cuts have been
    introduced one by one to accumulate to form the overall plan to manipulate financial
    transactions.UC will see all benefits paid monthly,why when claimants cannot
    manage on a weekly buget.To steer benefit payments directly to suppliers by
    either standing order or Direct Debit or another method up their sleeve so we
    have virtually no spending money ourselves.Osborne has emphatically stated
    Reforms will continue until 2020.BSB

  • Bonkim

    Have fewer children. Government needs to have a policy on population reduction.

    • saffrin

      Correct. Starting by closing our borders to new arrivals.

  • dalai guevara

    This kind of thing is full blown hand granate gone off in your own pocket kinda stuff.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Discriminating against our under 25’s when time and again you hear the same vile prejudice about foreigners working harder than British workers from the media, celebrities, business spokesmen and politicians is little more than outrageous.

    I am fully in favour of tightening up on benefits but discriminating against our young people when such a malevolent covert form of rascism eminates from those in power is quite despicable.

    Not only that but when it is the government that is doing so much to suffocate growth and jobs by artificially inflating business costs through its insane energy policies (carbon targets, windfarm subsidies etc) then punishing our young people in such a way is a disgrace.

  • Tom Tom

    So you treble tuition fees for the poor b@stards and then if they cannot get a job you leave them high and dry. This Party is deranged……but busy in Brussels fighting for Banker Bonuses !!! Wow !! Sheer lunacy

  • Troika21

    I could have held my nose and voted Tory, but after this conference I shan’t.

    This sort of thing is exactly why; nothing but punishing (young) people for being out of work and then pushing ‘do-something’ ideas upon them.

    Just shows how little the speech writer knows: you have to be in school if you’re school age, college is not free and apprenticeships and jobs don’t grow on trees.

    • Tom Tom

      So true

  • Monkey_Bach

    I bet the compulsory “work” mentioned will be unpaid menial workfare and that the “training” mentioned turn out to be of far too poor a quality to do participants much good at all. However, by shuffling the young unemployed from the Job Seeker category and redefining them as workfare/training draftees, or whatever, will result in an illusion that youth unemployment is falling like a stone. Which I suspect, once coupled with the enormous number of punitive sanctions that will be handed out to the young for trivial mistakes, represent the real method in this latest Tory madness.

    The praise given to Iain Duncan Smith was particularly laughable.

    I cannot think of an example of any similar maladroit politician, reeking quite so much of failure as IDS, being adulated by superiors, who can’t stand the sight of him, in such a forced and patently phoney manner.

    Universal Credit? Still on time and still on budget is it?

    • anyfool

      I bet the compulsory “work” mentioned will be unpaid menial workfare
      What do you think that someone who has spent three years or more lazing around would be capable of,
      Anyone who has spent three years sponging off the state is not likely to have any aptitude for work, an aptitude for avoiding work is not a qualification that gets you to the top jobs.

      It will be even on the terms you describe be more substantial than some of the pathetic training courses that Labour introduced.

      Looks like IDS is doing something right if it has brought you slithering out of your vipers den at Labour List.

      • Monkey_Bach

        You really are a complete and utter moron. This article is about the under 25s, including teenagers. Currently the school leaving age is 16 and therefore an unemployed school leaver would have to be continually unemployed until they had reached their 19th birthday BEFORE they could have been unemployed for three years. The policy under discussion would begin from 16 onwards which would affect unemployed school leavers who had been unemployed not continually for 3 years but for 1 second!

        Cameron has not said that his proposal is an either/or choice. He has not said that benefits will ONLY be taken away were a young person to refuse the offer of a job or training. (Which is the situation now as far as I know.) As it is impossible to guarantee either a job, or apprenticeship, or training place to every one of the million or so NEETs that exist and so if benefit is summarily stripped from the under 25s very large numbers of boys and girls will fall through the safety net, even if they are willing to play ball, into absolute poverty if this appalling proposal were to go ahead just as they did during John Major’s last few years as Prime Minister.

        What an innumerate and illiterate clot you are!

        Even though you hardly merit my notice I pity you.

        In fact this proposal is already dead in the water now. The Conservative Party has absolutely no chance of winning a majority and, at best, might just have enough MPs returned to for another coalition government with whatever Liberal Democrats survive the 2015 general election. As the Liberal Democrats would never give the stamp of approval to a policy quite so devilish and cruel it will never ever happen.

        Sane persons would do worse than to try to dig up a copy of a Barnardo report called “Four Years of Extreme Hardship” published sometime in the mid nineties. This shows exactly where a policy so brutal and ignorant as the one under discussion inevitably leads.

        • anyfool

          Rubbish, this is for people who refuse to take up places in training or education, why would any fit young person suffer “Four Years of Extreme Hardship”
          You are just spouting the usual nonsense from Labour, living of the back of the idle is your modus operandi.
          Take your fake outrage away.

          • Monkey_Bach

            My goodness you really are a challenged fellow aren’t you?

            Let me explain…

            The four years of hardship referred to the four year period which preceded the Barnardo report that 16 to 18 year olds, stripped of benefits unless in a job or training, were forced to live through after the policy which robbed help from them was introduced by the last Tory administration before it lost office in 1997.

            Out of kindness I would suggest that you don’t track down and try to read the report mentioned because it contains a lot of long words, some graphs and statistics, and may confuse you.

            • anyfool

              Extreme hardship because they were to take money from fit young men, rubbish they can work so if they are suffering it is self inflicted.
              No one suffers extreme hardship in this country, difficulties maybe but extreme , that is nonsense as is the lie that children are suffering extreme poverty and hunger because of any government in the last 60 years, poor parenting, drinking and smoking their benefit money is the more likely reason.
              Now go away.

              • Monkey_Bach

                Tell that to Barnardos. And try not to drag your knuckles along the ground when you walk. Toodles!

                • Fergus Pickering

                  I wouldn’t believe anything Barnados say. They are a lefty pressure group.

                • Monkey_Bach

                  But you do believe David Cameron who is a proven and a brazen liar, eh? A man who actually lied throughout his speech about many matters yesterday, in particular the very policy we are talking about. To remind you Cameron stated that: “Today it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits.”

                  That is an out and out lie; a brazen stinking rotten lie.

                  No person under 35 can claim housing benefit for anything other than a single room, in shared accommodation, as David Cameron must have known while lying through his teeth yesterday because it was his own government that changed the rules on housing benefit to make this so.

                  What a disgraceful and disgusting liar David Cameron is.

                  The man is a rogue not fit to be Prime Minister.

              • wilfulsprite

                Do you know any employers who were willing to take on 16 year olds? My cohort left school in the 70’s at age 16 and never found a problem with getting work, but that has all changed and 16 year olds became persona non grata.

                The simple fact is that Major removed the only income youngsters of 16-18 had *unless* they had a child or a physical condition or addiction. Guess what happened next?
                This was addressed when the school-leaving age was raised to 18.

                I cannot believe Cameron would now repeat the exercise with 18 – 24 year olds. How can they support themselves? Stop blaming parents – they lose state support as soon as the child leaves full-time education.

        • Tom Tom

          I suggest you read The Education and Skills Act 2008

          • Monkey_Bach

            Yes. The school leaving age is supposed to go up to 17 this year and up to 18 post-2015. To be honest I’m not sure if this has happened or not. But it doesn’t matter much anyway as far as the pernicious effects of stripping benefits from the under 25s goes.

    • Tom Tom

      Rich men should fund Brownshirts or Blackshirts or Blueshirts and let a new Golden Dawn flourish

  • mckaysproductions

    Hasn’t he already screwed people on benefits enough with the bedroom tax and all the other stupid little things they keep doing, like saying he wants people who aren’t working to live with their parents until they are 25? He really really loves the number 25 it seems. Got to vote this strange man out next election.

    • Fergus Pickering

      No. He doesn’t care where they live. He just doesn’t want them to get our money for doing nothing.

      • Tom Tom

        unless they are 26 and get the vote

      • mckaysproductions

        I would agree, however not everyone is in the same situation (see here ) and he said that unemployed people should stay at home with family until 25, that was his advice. Please before you argue something, learn a little about it.

  • Dan Grover

    It does seem slightly… arbitrary. Why up to 25? What is it about the policy that means it *is* more likely to lead to a 24 year old getting a job, but not a 26 year old? I appreciate a line may be drawn somewhere and that line has to be stark, but if this is meant to benefit the young, why is this offer of a better chance of employment not extended to everyone? If it’s a punishment, ditto?

    • Tom Tom

      Minimum Wage changes at 25

      • Flora Crane

        No it doesn’t. Full minimum wage kicks in at 21.

  • chilly

    Meh, politics…

  • Mynydd

    Just a few points:

    Maybe Mr David Cameron’s speech was deliberately light on policy, because he has no new ones.

    ‘we should give young people a clear, positive choice: go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job, surely this is the choice all young people have always faced, even when I was a boy. Nothing new here.

    Why is it that a politically independent civil servant the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood formulating policies for the Conservative Party’s manifesto.

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