Wednesday, 27 July 2016

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?’

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