David Cameron: Earn or Learn! No Handouts!

The under-25s will be stripped of their benefits to ensure they either ‘earn or learn’, David Cameron announced yesterday.

Unveiling a new crackdown on welfare, the Prime Minister said young people will no longer be able to ‘opt for a life on benefits’. The plans will mean that school leavers either have to take a job or an apprenticeship or remain in education or training. Those who refuse will face sanctions, including the loss of out-of-work benefits.

At the moment, those who refuse to take a job or an offer of a training place can lose their job seeker’s allowance (JSA), but the Tories plan to toughen that policy by also slashing or removing housing benefit payments if the under-25s refuse to co-operate.

Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to draw up a report into training and education for the under-25s.

Under existing rules, young jobless people lose their benefits if they train for more than 16 hours a week. As a result, the system pays them if they are not in training – but stops supporting them when they do.

The Heywood review is looking at ways to support young people after they have started training programmes. Sir Jeremy will report back in the autumn.

I can see why the government want to cut back on welfare spending, when you consider it’s a significant chunk of government budget, but reducing benefits isn’t going to inspire people into work or training. Instead all it will do is drive more and more people below the poverty line. Take Spain as an example. They have a 26% unemployment rate, and half of that statistic are the 16-25 year olds. Do our government want to end up down the same route? Is this research into other economies a bit like the ‘research’ into other countries’ education systems that informed our new curriculum? I worry that this is another ploy to support the rich at the expense of the poor. Are we going to go back into the days of Robin Hood?

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