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Cuts to housing benefit another nail in the coffin

Cuts to housing benefit another nail in the coffin

Since the coalition came into power in 2010, young people have not had the best of times to say the least. Lots of schemes helping young people have been scrapped, such as the education maintenance allowance for 18 year olds and the trebling of tuition fees to £9,000.

Another idea which could hammer young people was put forward at the Conservative conference. Specifically, the housing benefit being scrapped for under-25 year olds as part of Osborne’s plan to cut £10bn in welfare expenditure.

The argument for cutting housing benefit for under 25s is the belief that rather than seeing work as a way for them to get a property, young people receive benefits instead. The Conservatives argue that people of a young age should stay at home and save up in order to get on the property ladder. In an ideal world, this would be great. If only all were under the same circumstances and lucky enough to have parents who were willing to let them live in their household.

Housing benefit also helps the younger generation gain independence while working; the benefit allows the rent to be paid if they do not have enough income to pay for it. It allows young people the responsibility of having a flat, which in turn leads to greater independence away from parents, and from the state. Which is surely what the Tories want?

The Conservatives have this irrational argument that if you are on any benefits at all, you are lazy and you should be punished. Granted, there are a tiny minority who abuse benefits and should face a penalty. But when a benefit like this helps young people gain independence, then surely it should be applauded.

Instead of cutting this benefit, why not stop the reason people get these benefits in the first place? For example, one cause is the lack of houses from successive governments, and that there are not enough new houses being built. The government thinks that stopping rules on extensions is the answer, but they need to invest in housing so that people who are less well-off can aspire to get on the property ladder.

With young people being targeted as a demographic to cut the deficit, this is just another nail in the coffin for young people’s aspirations. With youth unemployment affecting over one million people, it is no wonder why so many young people are lost for hope.

06/11/2012

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