Cameron plans radical welfare shake-up

2012-06-25 21:48

London - Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday set out radical plans to reform Britain's welfare system, including housing benefit cuts that could see young adults forced to move back in with their parents.

Cameron said the shake-up, which also includes a time limit on unemployment benefit for people who have been out of work for several years, would end the "nonsense of paying people more to stay at home than to get a job".

"Why has it become acceptable for many people to choose a life on benefits?" said the Conservative leader.

Cameron, who came to power in 2010 in a coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats, said his government had inherited a welfare system that created "perverse incentives".

He added: "It gave us millions of working-age people sitting at home on benefits even before the recession hit," he said in a major speech in Kent, southeast England. "It created a culture of entitlement."

The controversial plan to withdraw housing benefits for people under the age of 25 would "stop the state dragging young people into dependency", the prime minister said.

But the opposition Labour party attacked the proposal, saying young families "with their first foot on the career ladder will be knocked off if help with their rent is taken away".

"This is another smokescreen from an out-of-touch prime minister who's now put our country back into a double-dip recession, forced up youth unemployment to over a million and is doing nothing to fix the unfolding chaos," said Labour's work and pensions spokesperson Liam Byrne.

Cameron, whose government has introduced steep austerity measures in a bid to shrink its yawning deficit, said Britain needed "a welfare system that the country can properly afford".

The proposals include introducing regional variations in benefits, to reflect the different cost of living across the country, and a reduction in the current £20 000 cap on housing support.

Unemployed people may be required to have a CV to claim benefits, and people on sickness benefits could be forced to take steps to improve their health.

Single parents on benefits could be forced to look for work when their child is three years old, as opposed to five under the current system.

The speech has been seen as an attempt by Cameron to regain support from rightwing lawmakers who have accused him of letting the Liberal Democrats water down Conservative policies.

  • delish7564 - 2012-06-25 22:07

    May not be popular but long overdue!

  • adrien.mcguire - 2012-06-25 22:09

    We need the same shake up here too. We also have a system we cannot afford. the more kids you have the more you are paid.. the state should only be responsible for 2 children to avoid the incentive for those who have a sense of entitlement, to continue to breed beyond their means. the world is moving to a system that puts more responsibility on the citizens, and guess what, we are going the other way !

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-06-26 01:42

      South Africa has a unique history that we all know of, but I agree with you as far as child benefits are concerned. I have always maintained that the government should limit this benefit to first borns only as surely the parent would have learned how difficult it is to raise a child.

      smellarat.smith - 2012-06-26 03:50

      Yes Fidel, but once the first one is born, the Mother's chance for a decent education practically evaporates. Why is our government not aggressively promoting birth control as a fundamental strategy to break the cycle of poverty? And why would you want to encourage a "mistake" to learn from? Truth is, many people in poverty sees the child benefit as a benefit, which sends exactly the wrong message.

      Ze Don - 2012-06-26 08:18

      To qualify for a child grant BOTH parents ID numbers should be mandatory and if one of the parents has already got 2 children they don't qualify for more grants. The grants should also be in the form of age specific vouchers and NOT cash.

  • ruanvdm - 2012-06-26 08:19

    Employ some Thacherism, that will sort out their sense of entitlement. Now if we can only get someone in SA to make the same hard choices, that would be great!

      Ze Don - 2012-06-26 08:43

      I don't think anyone in our government has the cojones to what's necessary though...

  • billy.teeton - 2012-06-26 08:28

    Brilliant Cameron - looooong overdue!

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