Benefit plan is half-baked
MOST of us agree that Britain doesn't have the money to continue funding our welfare state in its current form. There has to be change – we cannot afford otherwise. For this reason it's not difficult to understand why, from the vantage point of Downing Street, David Cameron's suggestion that under-25s should be disqualified from receiving housing benefit might be seen as tough but rational. After all, why should the state pay for young adults to leave home? Let them stay with their parents like we all used to, so the argument goes. Unfortunately, in North Staffordshire – where youth unemployment is high and family breakdown is commonplace – the argument is seen for what it is: callous and ultimately self-defeating. In our region alone, there are thousands of young adults, many of them working, who have no parental home they could return to and who rely on housing benefit to keep them off the streets. Scrapping housing benefit would, for example, undo all the excellent work carried out by North Staffordshire YMCA, in Hanley. There would be an explosion in rough sleepers. Mr Cameron's suggestion fails to recognise the huge number of young adults, often from single-parent or no-parent families, who have been thrown out of their homes. These youngsters would inevitably end up in shop doorways.
And there's another good reason why ditching housing benefit would not help the public purse. For it would act as a big deterrent to youngsters who want to get on their bikes from areas of high unemployment, to find work. It would make unemployed job-seekers much less mobile, leaving them languishing on benefits for longer. In short, Mr Cameron's plan is half-baked and wholly unfeasible. It also risks alienating the generation of people we most need to help us recover from the global financial crisis.
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