Let’s ban Housing Benefit for the under 25s and make them stay at home.
This is the latest ‘radical’ kite-flying ‘announcement’ from the Tories and met as you would expect with howls of derision from the usual suspects. Yet why do they react this way and aren’t they merely playing into Tory hands? Yes they are.
The Tories have always had their own version of How to win friends and influence people – get yourself portrayed as a heartless bastard, from Thatcher, Thatcher, school milk snatcher to Gove shrinking school meal portions there are plenty of examples of attacking public sector profligacy. In an age of austerity this really comes to the fore with every Minister competing to come up with yet more and more ‘radical’ ideas as they jockey for their own positions amongst the Tory faithful. The more austere they are the greater and longer the standing ovation at the party conference and the better chance of higher cabinet office at the next reshuffle, usually after the latest ministerial scandal. The more of a heartless bastard that you are portrayed, the greater the career advancement in the Tory party.
Yet in this proposal to ban the under 25s from receiving Housing Benefit the Tories have moved from heartless to truly incompetent bastards and this is where the correct focus should be.
Barely scratch the surface and you realise this can’t work and is yet another example of how this Tory-led Coalition develop policy by spin without thinking it through. In the governments view they will stay at home with mum and dad. They all have a mum and dad don’t they? They don’t leave the family home because there is a new stepdad on the scene despite the huge anecdotal evidence that this is a main reason for young single homelessness. No lets propel and advance the the Tory myth and blame game that all young people are indolent feckless criminal scum and not worthy. That inept approach of course conveniently hides the fact we can tax YPs at 16 but woe betide them receiving HB at 24 if they have paid taxes for 8 years!
Let’s look at this farce of an idea in a bit of detail.
Homelessness – up and down the country we see single homeless hostels many of which have age groups of 18 to 25 year-olds. They all receive Housing Benefit. Are these to be exempted from this proposed age ban or will homeless hostels close? How many of these young single homeless have had to leave home? Plenty as anyone who has any knowledge of this ‘client group’ will know. So where are they to go – the street perhaps?
Domestic Violence and abuse – Sorry Ms Smith you are only 23 go back and be beaten for a further couple of years and then you will qualify for entry into a refuge… unless of course you can pay the rent at the refuge out of your own means.
Care Leaver – Sorry young Johnny you are only 16 (or 21) you will have to find a nice sofa to sleep on for the next four to nine years until you qualify for HB!
Yet if hostels or refuges are to be exempt would this represent the only viable option for the under 25s? Will that cost more than the average £82.87 per week in Housing Benefit the under 25s receive now? You can double that figure so there’s no cost saving and a huge cost increase in fact. But even that wouldn’t work would it? No under 25s would leave the hostel or refuge as they wouldn’t qualify for HB in their own place would they. In fact they wouldn’t be able to get in would they as hostels and refuges would be permanently full? So where would they go?
This HB age criteria being proposed just cannot work as it denies the right to a home to all 25s unless they are working. And which age group has over a million unemployed, yes the under 25s! So no human rights challenges and a million new jobs going to happen? Oh and how will this affect the bedroom tax? Is this not a plan to over-occupy what is now under-occupied and see 23 and 24 year old brothers sharing bunk beds?
I could go on with reams of this stuff about how this policy proposal just cannot work. Yet the problem is that the opponents of it are not taking this line. Instead they are simple saying how the Tories are heartless bastards and not how truly incompetent bastards winging knee-jerk inept policy on the fly.
Has it really got to the stage that we give credulity to any of the lunatic machinations coming out of Downing Street? Has the level of challenge sunk so low by the opposition and in doing so simply plays into the Tories hands by giving any ridiculous proposal automatic credulity? That any objection to however hare-brained scheme they propose just shows that whosoever opposes is denying the need for cuts and more austerity, and that the Tories are the only ‘realists’ to the economic recession!
It’s time to expose their incompetence not pander them with faint praise over their heartlessness, which is what they want!