David Cameron has announced that he wants to stop housing benefits for everyone aged under 25, apart from victims of abuse and domestic violence. David Cameron is wrong. I only have to look at my own life to explain why I find it so. I started full time work when I left school aged 18. I worked for the summer and then moved to Stockholm for six months to be with a girl I'd met. On returning, I started work as a painter and decorator, then did a TOPS course to get a job in IT. At the time I was also playing pretty much full time in a Rock and Roll band. I then met a girl I loved dearly, got a flat and was working in a well paid profession as well as running my own studio part time and playing regularly in a band.
By the time I was 24, I had a very responsible job, had been living with someone for two years and also had my own business and a rock and roll band, playing all around the UK and Europe. Then things went wrong, my relationship went broke down and the band split up. I also had severe health problems, caused by a stomach ulcer, which nearly killed me. I ended up being confined to bed in Edgware General hospital for 6 weeks. I was lucky, the firm I was working for were supportive and I kept my job. I ended up spending six months sleeping on floors at friends. My parents put me up for a few weeks when I came out of hospital, but the arrangement was impossible for both of us. They wanted to enjoy their retirement and not have someone with my lifestyle disturbing them. I'd worked and paid tax for the best part of six years and was used to living on my own. With my parents religious views, there were many clashes and arguments which didn't help my health or their state of mind. I respected their views, but I had moved on.
After six months, my health improved and I found a new flat. In all this time, I didn't need any benefits, in fact I've never claimed them. I do know for a fact that if I'd lost my job I would have had to claim them. Why on earth should someone who has lived independently for six years, be forced to live with their parents, due to a temporary setback. I had a stack of possessions and furniture, which my parents had nowhere to accomodate in the house. Luckily they had a large shed which housed them for the duration of the period between flats.
Many of my friends at the company I was working at were graduates who moved from all over the country to work in London. Would Cameron force people like them back to Scotland, Wales and the North of England if they lost their job, to live with mum and dad? What likelyhood will they have of finding work in those areas, given that they moved in the first place? Many people aged 24 would have similar issues if they lost a job. A period on housing benefits would see them through a period of disruption. Is Mr Cameron really seeking to have people thrown on the street, when they have paid rent (and tax) for several years and suddenly lose their job (there is a recession Dave, brought about by your policies), for want of housing benefit for a few months.
I was lucky that I had an understanding employer and my family were local in London. Many people move to our great city for work and things go wrong. It doesn't escape my notice that Cameron also wants to make it easier for firms to sack someone. Put all these things together and you'll end up with a situation where people under 25 will find it impossible to buy or rent accomodation. So much for a mobile workforce.
Many Tories never take account of the fact that housing benefit is beneficial to the economy. It ensures that people can move around the country to find work, because without a secure tenure, this would be impossible. I also believe it to be highly unfair on parents. Once people reach the age of 18, children are legally independent. The government is, by the back door, raising this age to 25. Parents are already faced with huge extra costs for educating their children, especially if they go to University. As usual it is the decent working parents in the middle of the tax bracket who will feel the burden the most.
As with most of Dave's policies (pasty tax, caravan tax, etc) this really hasn't been properly thought through. If Cameron really is intent on raising revenue, go after the tax avoiders (most of whom are Conservative supporters).