53% Britons support taking housing benefit from under 25s, 37% oppose; older people most agree
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those aged 18 to 24 years showed a greater opposition to the proposed cuts than those in elder age brackets, although results suggest that a significant minority of this youngest group does support the plans.
David Cameron has announced a new Conservative Party move to cut the welfare bill, where people under the age of 25 could lose the right to housing benefit, reportedly saving the Government almost £2bn a year.
- 53% of Britons support withdrawing housing benefit from the great majority of welfare claimants under the age of 25
- 37% oppose cutting housing benefits for those under 25
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, older people are more in favour, with far more respondents over 60 years than those aged 25-39 and 40-59, agreeing with the proposals
The poll also asked about Cameron's related proposals to limit benefits for families with three or more children. The majority or Britons is in support of this change (59%), while just under a third is against it (30%). The younger generation is again most opposed to cuts compared to older people, especially those over 60.
Opposition and criticism
When announcing the potential changes, the Prime Minister argued that the 'welfare gap' has led to huge resentment among those who feel that others are getting what they themselves have to work hard for – or may never be able to afford at all.
Cameron has stated that he wants to address what he sees as a “culture of entitlement”, which effectively encourages young people to take advantage of welfare systems rather than seek work.
Despite the public's sizeable support, the Prime Minister's proposals have been met with much opposition from homeless charities, housing consultancies and other politicians alike. Critics of the plans argue that cutting housing benefit for under 25s will potentially increase homelessness and youth unemployment, while others have gone so far as to label the cuts a display of 'utter contempt' for young people in England today.
"Languishing on the dole"
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne has expressed disbelief that government reforms are still focusing on working-age welfare rather than fixing issues such as housing and employment opportunities. He told the BBC: “What we really need is a serious back-to-work programme… Housing benefit is available to a lot of people who are in work and perhaps on low incomes, so for a lot of young families with their first feet on the career ladder, this plan could actually knock them off the career ladder."
However, despite opposition, the Prime Minister has defended his suggestions, saying that his overall aim in reforming welfare was not to limit opportunities for young people, but rather to stop them "languishing on the dole and dependency".