In a speech later today, the Prime Minister will say that he is considering removing housing benefit from those under-25s. This appears to be one of the most ill-thought through, headline grabbing policy announcements that I can recall.
There are some questions that demand answers:
- How can parents be obliged to take their adult children back into the home, and what happens to those young people where they can’t ‘go home’?
- What protection will there be for children and young people who have left their family home to avoid abuse and domestic violence?
- What happens in those cases where the parents have “done the right thing” by moving to smaller houses once their children have move out and there is now no spare room?
- What happens if there is no room in the parent’s home for other reasons, such as second families with children?
I have to ask why David Cameron is bringing this proposal forward now? We are already witnessing the most profound changes to the benefit system in my lifetime. If this is such a pressing issue, why was it not identified and enacted when all the other changes were introduced?
The BBC’s political correspondent, Vicki Young, has suggested that Mr Cameron’s speech will be seen as an attempt to reconnect with disgruntled Tory backbenchers. I don’t know if that is true, but if there is even a hint of reality in her analysis, it ill becomes a Prime Minister to risk a huge rise in youth homelessness for internal party expediency.
This isn’t the pressing problem it is being made out to be. Those under 35 living in the private rented sector are entitled to just £77 housing benefit per week. Just 6% of those under 25 living in the private rented sector currently receive housing benefit.
92% of new claims for housing benefit are from those in work. They are already “doing the right thing” but this measure will hit young people already in jobs.
The consequence of this proposal will be an increase in overcrowding, homelessness, begging, crime, and prostitution.