Tuesday, 09 February 2016

Clegg vows to oppose age limit on housing benefit

Nick Clegg has vowed to oppose a ‘blanket ban’ on housing benefit for under 25-year-olds, but stressed further welfare cuts will be needed.

The deputy prime minister, speaking on BBC Radio 5 on Friday, was asked whether he agreed with proposals from senior Conservatives to restrict housing benefit for people under 25 years of age.

Mr Clegg, asked whether he supported a ban on under-25s receiving housing benefit, said: ‘A complete blanket ban on providing housing benefit to anyone who so happens to have been born 25 years ago or less? Of course not. Because there are people who have got kids, who have suffered abuse, who have suffered terrible trauma in their families.

‘Of course as a compassionate society you have got to support them.’ He did however suggest there are some people under 25 who ‘don’t need all the support they get’.

Senior Conservatives, including prime minister David Cameron last week, suggested restrictions of housing benefit for under 25s as part of a plan to make £10 billion of welfare cuts by the next election.

Mr Clegg said he would not be in favour of £10 billion of welfare cuts, saying those at the top should be asked to contribute more first.

He said: ‘When we are all having to make sacrifices, you ask people at the top and then you work down, you don’t ask people at the bottom and work up.

‘I don’t agree with this idea you pluck a £10 billion figure out of the sky and then say that’s what we are going to do without asking how can we do that more fairly.’

Mr Clegg did say, however, that it would be ‘unrealistic to assume’ that the government can’t make any more savings from the £200 billion welfare budget.

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