By Ian Dipple 28/06 Updated: 28/06 22:40
ALMOST 250 young people in Redditch face being stripped of their housing benefit under proposals unveiled by the Prime Minister.
David Cameron has mooted stopping the benefit for people under-25 in a bid to cut £2billion from the country's benefits bill as well as encourage a wider debate about what the welfare state is for and who it is designed to help.
In a speech on Monday (June 25) Mr Cameron asked it if was fair an unemployed 19-year-old could leave college without a job, move out of her parents' home and be automatically entitled to housing benefit while another woman who worked had to stay at home to be able to afford to move out.
"Those within (the welfare system) grow up with a series of expectations - you can have a home of your own, the state will support you whatever decisions you make, you will always be able to take out no matter what you put in. This has sent out some incredibly damaging signals. That it pays not to work. That you are owed something for nothing.
"And it has led to huge resentment amongst those who pay into the system, because they feel what they're having to work hard for, others are getting without having to put in the effort."
According to figures from Redditch Borough Council there are currently 153 single people aged 25 or under claiming housing benefit living in private accommodation with another 95 living in council homes. While some would be able to move back in with friends or family, opponents of the plans have warned others, particularly those with children, will struggle to be able to afford their home.
Rebecca Blake, Labour's Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, said the focus should be on tackling youth unemployment so young people did not have to rely on housing benefit.
"People under 25 claiming Housing Benefit is a symptom of record youth unemployment and recession," she said.
"The answer is to get these people into work so their taxes help pay the deficit, not send them home, if indeed there is a family home, where they will still be claiming other benefits because they are unemployed."
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation which represents England's housing associations, said the move risked increasing homelessness and could make it harder for young people to move to where they can find work. He said the best way to tackle the problem was to build enough decent quality affordable homes to stimulate growth and keep rents down.
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