George Osborne has announced the Conservative Party would cut housing benefit for under-25s after the next election as part of £25billion spending cuts, removing a vital lifeline for many homeless young people who are already struggling financially. Such a move would be catastrophic for the 6,000 homeless young people Centrepoint supports each year.
On Monday it was put to Esther McVey, the newly promoted 'Minister for the Bedroom Tax', that there is a shortage of one bedroom properties for people to move to - nothing new here - but at the same time three bedroom properties are becoming increasingly hard to let. Rarely lost for words, her answer was to blame councils and housing associations... The more I thought about this the more ridiculous it seemed.
Since the coalition government was elected, the manifesto promise of the Big Society has morphed into relentless bashing of benefit claimants via the media. Whether stories originate from press officers or from journalists, the results are the same. Strivers vs. Shirkers, benefit scroungers, large families fleecing the public purse, single mums, teen mums, are all headlines that fuel the increasingly hate-filled rhetoric against benefit claimants.
The prospects for young people starting out in the world today are already bleak with nearly one million young people currently unemployed - and now life is about to get even harder for them. The reckless proposal to remove housing benefits from under-25s risks leaving some of this country's most vulnerable young people out in the cold. What makes this proposal particularly distasteful is that in reality only a mere eight per cent of total housing benefits are claimed by under-25s, making this a policy which risks causing long-term harm to the lives of young people for the sake of a few headlines.