George Osborne has said that a further £10bn needs to be removed from the welfare budget and put forward the prospect of removing housing benefits from those aged under 25, with the concept that they are still able to return to their parent’s homes.
Following Simon Hughes’ statement on Newsnight that he would not agree to Osborne’s proposal, and that Nick Clegg would feel the same, Clegg has now said in a live radio debate that he would not agree to a blanket ban based on age:
A complete blanket ban on providing housing benefit to anyone who so happens to have been born 25 years ago or less? Of course not.
Because there are people who have got kids, who have suffered abuse, who have suffered terrible trauma in their families.
Of course as a compassionate society you have got to support them.
However, he did however suggest there are some people under 25 who ‘don’t need all the support they get’ and also that it is unrealistic to assume the government could not make more cuts from the welfare budget.
Hughes had argued against the proposal on the grounds that it would penalise the 17% of housing benefit claimants who are in employment (93% of new claims in 2010-11 were made by in-work households) and the seven per cent who are sick or disabled and trying to make ends meet, and he did not think this was right.
This is not the same idea as Clegg, who is only opposing removing it from those with children or those who have suffered abuse.
Clegg did however say he would not be in favour of £10 billion of welfare cuts, and said that those at the top should be asked to contribute more first:
When we are all having to make sacrifices, you ask people at the top and then you work down, you don’t ask people at the bottom and work up.
I don’t agree with this idea you pluck a £10 billion figure out of the sky and then say that’s what we are going to do without asking how can we do that more fairly.
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