Councillor quits over Cameron's welfare speech
A councillor in Devon has quit the Conservative party as a result of David Cameron’s controversial welfare speech.
Matthew James, who was elected to Torbay Council last year, announced he was leaving the party and would instead sit as an independent.
Mr James announced the decision in a statement on his website. He said he cannot support proposals to remove housing benefit from under 25 year olds calling it the ‘final straw’.
He said: ‘The party promised not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor but I feel that that is exactly what is happening.
‘I believe this government has turned its back on the compassionate, communitarian conservatism that was once promised.’
Mr James said he agreed with many of the governments’ policies on issues such as education, localism, gay marriage and law and order.
But he added: ‘The good that is being done is being significantly undermined by a misguided and damaging commitment to austerity and recent u-turns on protecting the environment and civil liberties.
‘The recently announced plan by the government to look at removing housing benefits from everyone under the age of 25 was the final straw and is something that I, as a young person, cannot support.’
Mr Cameron has been slammed by housing sector figures for making his case for change by comparing those who work and do not claim housing benefit with those who are unemployed and do.
Department for Work and Pensions figures show that one in four working-age claimants, and nine in 10 new claimants over the last two years, are in employment.