Cameron is repeating the housing benefit myth ~ The statistic Cameron ignores: only one in eight claimants is unemployed.

The Myth of ‘Compassionate Conservatism’! ~ Black Triangle 

By George Eaton, New Statesman, Published 25th June 2012 

David Cameron has vowed to tackle what he calls "a culture of entitlement" in the welfare system. Photograph: Getty Images.

Having long abandoned the pretence that “we’re all in this together”, David Cameron is preparing yet another raid on the welfare budget. In a speech today, he will announce plans to abolish housing benefit for under-25s and will indicate that the government is considering “time-limiting” Jobseeker’s Allowance, reducing the new benefits cap to £22,000 and restricting payments for large families (specifically, limiting child benefit to three children, although this proposal will not be mentioned in the speech).

As previously signalled by George Osborne, the cuts are designed to save the government £10bn but so far Cameron hasn’t chosen to focus on the alleged savings. Rather, he has argued that the plans are necessary to reverse a “culture of entitlement”. In his pre-speech interview with the Mail on Sunday, Cameron claimed that housing benefit “discourages” young people from working:

A couple will say, ‘We are engaged, we are both living with our parents, we are trying to save before we get married and have children and be good parents.’

But how does it make us feel, Mr Cameron, when we see someone who goes ahead, has the child, gets the council home, gets the help that isn’t available to us?

One is trapped in a welfare system that discourages them from working, the other is doing the right thing and getting no help.

With those words, Cameron perpetuated the biggest myth about housing benefit: that it is a benefit for the unemployed. The truth is that just one in eight claimants is out of work (not a statistic that you’ll find reported in most papers). The majority of those who claim housing benefit, including the under-25s, do so to compensate for substandard wages and extortionate rents. A recent study by The Building and Social Housing Foundation showed that 93 per cent of new housing benefit claims made between 2010 and 2011 were made by households containing at least one employed adult.

It is meaningless of Cameron to claim that the housing benefit budget is “too large” without considering why. The inflated budget, which will reach £23.2bn this year, is the result of a conscious choice by successive governments to subsidise private landlords rather than invest in affordable social housing. Yet rather than addressing the problem of stagnant wages and excessive rents, Cameron, in a bid to appease his querulous party, has chosen to squeeze the already squeezed. 

That he should do so by abolishing housing benefit for under-25s is particularly egregious. Of the 380,000 young people who claim the benefit, a significant number do so because they have been thrown out by their parents. As Shelter notes, “Last year nearly 10,000 households in priority need were recognised as homeless after they were thrown out by their parents. Many more won’t have shown up in the statistics and will have resorted to sofa surfing, hostels or at worst the streets.”

Others may be unable to live at home after their parents divorced or downsized or, as Petra Davies previously noted on the site, may have been rejected due to their sexuality. As she noted, around 25 per cent of the young homeless population in urban areas is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. 

But such objections will do little to deter Cameron’s drive to shrink the state. With his latest attack on the working poor, he has finally outed himself as a compassionless Conservative.

New Statesman

1 thought on “Cameron is repeating the housing benefit myth ~ The statistic Cameron ignores: only one in eight claimants is unemployed.

  1. DAVID A SHAW says:

    David Cameron, delusional, heartless, hateful, twisted, ignorant, and quite possibly the worst Prime minister we have ever had. For in Thatcher you knew where you stood, she hated you and wanted you to hate her. Cameron has hidden his true nature for the few years he has been in power, now he has nowhere to hide and is facing armaggedon at the ballot box, so the only place he can go is to appeal to the ignorant and uniformed tabloid readers, and to the hateful within his own party ( which is pretty much most of them ) in order to try and bolster his own public image and reassert some’ authority’. Own goal ‘ call me Dave’ as the majority of housing benefit claimants are working, and how many parents forced to have their adult offspring back at home after they have left will thank you and give you their vote. You show yourself to be deluded and so far removed from reality on a daily basis that i wonder whether your life does exist in a red bottle, or whether you actually are an alien life form, it has to be one of the two does it not ?

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