Monday, 02 March 2015

Hughes: Lib Dems will oppose housing benefit cut

The Liberal Democrats will oppose plans to scrap automatic housing benefit for under 25 year olds, the party’s deputy leader has said.

Simon Hughes, speaking on the BBC show Question Time last night, said: ‘We have not signed up to cutting housing benefit for the under-25s and I don’t imagine for a moment we will.’  He confirmed party leader Nick Clegg agrees with him.

Prime minister David Cameron announced the government would look to end automatic housing benefit for under-25s. He made a distinction between those that work and live with their parents and those that don’t work and live independently off benefits. Mr Cameron said £10 billion needs to be found in welfare cuts by the next general election, meaning they would look to implement changes in the current parliament, therefore needing Liberal Democrat support.

But Mr Hughes made the point that large numbers of young housing benefit claimants are in work and use housing benefit to top up their income.

He said: ‘There are about 385,000 youngsters under 25 claiming housing benefit. Seventeen per cent [of these] are employed, so they use [housing benefit] to top up their employment and if they didn’t have it they probably couldn’t afford to stay where they are living and they would probably have to give up their work.

‘So on that basis, it seems unintelligent. Seven percent are sick or disabled so they’re not going to be able to go to work and half of them have dependent children.

‘Are you really saying that we should be depriving a 23-year-old mum of the money she needs to keep a roof over the head of her two little ones?’

Readers' comments (12)

  • If your happy with housing benefit caps that make tens of thousand of people homeless why is this any different?

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  • Poor old Libdems, they had a lot going for them regarding their thoughts on housing but they've agreed so much with Tory policy, no-one believes they will carry through on anything else.

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  • Chris

    Oh Joy - I'm sure Mr Hughes will abstain very strongly against the proposals, and maybe even stamp his foot whilst doing so.

    Labour opposition may be absent but Liberal opposition has become a passive joke.

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  • 385,000 youngsters under 25 claiming housing benefit
    Seventeen per cent are employed
    A quick calculation makes that 83% are not working then!

    Meaning the 17% will keep their housing benefit and 83% will not as the Tories have said they MAY stop automatic housing benefit for those under 25.

    However, these figures seem to go against what Labour, pressure groups and individuals have been saying that the majority of under 25’s are working and claiming housing benefit – it would seem the percentage is much lower.

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  • Usual Suspect

    AJM The numbers and facts are always different when politicians open their mouths.
    None of them are honest or straight they are either attempting to look good or make the others look bad.

    hence you cant belieive anything which is why lots of people dont vote these days.

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  • Chris

    AJM - i'm not sure people have been saying that.

    I've heard, and said that there are more working people claiming benefit than there are unemployed. Indeed - that is true, even our resident statistical guru produced government data showing such.

    I've heard it said that there is mass unemployment amongst young people (under 25's) and that some under 25's have never been able to gain a job. Indeed that is also true as the workforce data confirms it.

    But other than you, I've not heard anyone allege that there are more young people employed claiming benefit than unemployed - I think you either made that up or have been listening to Tories too long. Perhaps you could quote the Labour, pressure groups and individuals who are supposidly the source of your argued point!

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  • Chris - you twist my words: housing benefit as in the word housing. I certainly heard this argued on 'This Week' with my own every ears last night. Some person arguing that the majority of new HOUSING benefit claims made by people under 25 are by those in work.

    But I am not arguing for this... I'm saying the data would confirm that the majority of under 25 claiming housing benefit are unemployed with no reference to the fact this maybe forced or unforced.

    As for all other benefits this is a separate issue - Simple maths would suggest that it is true that those employed claim benefits more than those unemployed. Only if the UK workforce is less than 3M!

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  • Chris

    Thanks for the clarification AJM that the 'go against what Labour, pressure groups and individuals have been saying' related to an individual's view on in an individual argument rather than the much wider held belief you attempted to conclude.

    Whilst you can be sure that Housing Benefit is claimed by tenants rather than home owners, you can not be sure that the 17% of employed under 25's are tenants and therefore you can not be sure that they are housing benefit claimants. Thus the number of under 25's claiming housing benefit and being unemployed could be higher thatn your estimate. It could also be lower - for instance, are there really only 385,000 under 25's in our economy and they are all tenants, or are only the unemployed under 25's in rented housing.

    The presumptions in your statisitical leap are probably higher than the number of younfg people being discused.

    Would you care to try again?

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  • Hello - all this talk but the policy won't amount to a hill of beans.

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  • Not my figures but those of Mr Hughes - ask him! But I'm he sure made it clear (according to the piece above - although maybe you are questioning the reporting of his words) that:
    1: 385,000 youngsters under 25 are claiming housing benefit (where, when, how, what, why - does not matter)
    2: Seventeen per cent [of these] are employed.

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