Last week David Cameron unveiled his master plan to cut 10 billion from the Welfare budget by 2016. How? By forcing the under 25's to seek refuge with their parents until they turn 25.
It seems already that Danny Alexander and his merry band of Liberal Democrats are running for the hills.
380,000 young people under the age of 25 are in receipt of Housing benefit. These may be people completely dependent on other benefits, or people who are working part time and receive help with the cost of their housing. I agree, a minority of these people may be those people who have never worked in their lives and may never work. However, I'd like to think if there were more suitable employment out there for the majority of them, they would rightly go and earn the money they require for their home, instead of having to take it out of tax payer's money and thus being deemed "scoungers".
What happens to those between the age of 18 and 24 that are already in receipt of Housing Benefit? Will they unceremoniously be told to pack their bags and find a futon?
David Cameron used an example of two twenty one year olds who are engaged, but living at home, both working to save up for a house and set up a future home for a family. I'm sorry Mr Cameron, but some people are married divorced and have two or more children before they hit the grand old age of 25. Circumstances change, and we are not living in 1950s middle class idealist Suburbia.
Does Mr Cameron think that parents are an endless resource of cash? Perhaps their upbringings were slightly different from my own.
Parents of younger children who work are faced with astronomical childcare bills, those who sacrifice their jobs to look after their own children are forced to live on one wage with very little help. Older children who wish to go to University are expected to pay up to £9,000 per year in tuition fees or end up to the tune of £20,000 plus in debt. I agree most parents plan for these eventualities, if they are in a position to do so. But I often wonder if Cameron or Osborne were still phoning home asking for their parents for money at the age of 25.
The only leeway to this change in benefit policy would be if the claimant had been subject to domestic or sexual abuse. This worries me greatly. Having worked with victims of abuse, and knowing that three quarters of such incidents are never reported, what infrastructure will be put in place to means test this? And will young people who have not reported their abuse be brushed under the carpet? In my honest opinion it's also rife for more disingenuous individuals to take advantage of the system.
As a parent you actively train your children and teach them from a very early age how to be independent. The last thing you want for them is for them to be in a position in their early twenties whereby they are completely reliant on state benefits. But this is happening all the more often, because of lack of work in the UK. Two fifths of the total number of unemployed in the UK are under the age of 25. The more adventurous birds who fly the nest find work elsewhere in Europe, the highly motivated and brilliant move to the Cities, and make a name for themselves, or start up entrepreneurial ventures at home. But this isn't the majority of our kids.
What we all want as parents is for our children to be happy. Give them the tools to budget and save, yes. But you cannot provide a stellar job for them in such an unstable economic climate, when even family run businesses cannot sustain equilibrium. If they find themselves out of work, support them, but enforcing this particular change would make a martyr of any working parent in their forties or fifties. And I'll be damned if I take advice from a man who leaves his daughter in a pub after Sunday lunch.
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