For and against: getting rid of housing benefit for the under-25s?
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Thu July 12, 5:23 p.m. BST
As part and parcel of the ongoing welfare reform debate, David Cameron recently suggested that people under the age of 25 (aside from those in exceptional circumstances) should no longer be able to claim housing benefit, and instead should move back in with their parents.
Under the current benefit system under-25s can receive state-funded help to pay their rent if they are on a low income, receiving out-of-work benefits, are not living with or paying rent to their close family or relatives, or seeking asylum in the UK.
YouGov's nationally representative public opinion polling on the subject revealed that 53% of Britons were in favour of taking housing benefit away from under-25s, while 37% were opposed.
To explore this clear split in public opinion, we invited you to share your views in PoliticsLab on whether housing benefit for the under-25s should be abolished. Read what people had to say below!
By contrast with the nationally-representative public opinion poll, the largest proportion of those who took part in the Labs debate disagreed with the Prime Minister’s suggestion to scrap the housing benefit for those under the age of 25.
- Those who held this view said that not everyone who is under 25 has the option of moving back in with their parents.
- Many of you shared personal experiences of coming from an unstable home environment, and suffering physical or mental abuse that made it impossible for you to live with you parents.
- Others said that even for young people coming from relatively happy homes, being able to afford their own place is a crucial step (psychologically and practically) in them establishing themselves as independent, responsible adults.
- Many suggested that because of David Cameron’s wealthy background he does not have a full appreciation of the financial strugglespeople in their early 20s face, including a tough job market, and a much higher cost of living.
- Participants said that those aged 25 and under were often working at the bottom of the pay scale, and therefore removing their right to claim housing benefit would be disproportionately painful for them, and financially hobble them at a time when they most need a bit of help.
You also argued that this proposal unfairly targets under-25s, who are fully-fledged adults and pay taxes, and therefore should be eligible for the same housing benefit that is available to everybody else aged 25 and over.
A smaller, but still substantial proportion of those who took part in the debate agreed with the Prime Minister’s suggestion to scrap housing benefit for those under the age of 25.
- Those who thought housing benefit should be removed argued that it discouraged young people from taking jobs where available, and contributed to a ‘something for nothing’ culture.
- A view often expressed was that there were jobs available for under-25s but not necessarily ones they want to do, and thus giving them state assistance has led to a situation where young people don’t have to do whatever it takes to scrape by – this ran against many participants’ sense of fairness.
- Those participants who lived with their parents into their mid and late 20s in order to save for a deposit on a mortgage, resented that some others their age could live independently with the help of a taxpayer-funded housing benefit. You said that nowadays it is not exceptional for people to live with their parents into early adulthood.
- Many of you argued that the housing benefit should be restricted to those who (in your view) truly need it, such as older people who have fallen on hard times because of being temporary unemployed, or those suffering from a debilitating illness.
- Participants in this camp expressed unease with the larger welfare system, and seemed to feel that any reform was a step in the right direction. You voiced concerns that the welfare system was overly generous, and was creating an environment where hardworking people felt discouraged and resentful because they perceived benefit claimants being handed the same things for which they made sacrifices.
AGAINST THE PROPOSAL
FOR THE PROPOSAL
Do you favour removing the option of housing benefit for people under the age of 25?
If you're against the idea, why is this? Add your voice to the debate in Disqus below: