Housing benefit cut for under-25s still being discussed

Despite being left out of chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement, it appears the Government is still thinking about cutting the automatic right for under-25s to claim housing benefit.

Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said in Parliament this week that there is still a discussion and debate going on in Government but that "more work is required". The Liberal Democrats have said they would oppose any such move.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "In June, the Prime Minister instigated a debate about the merits and risks of taxpayers continuing to meet the £2 billion bill that automatic entitlement to housing benefit for people aged under age 25 brings. More work is required, and that discussion and debate is still going on."

He was, however, later warned by Labour MP for North Tyneside, Mary Glindon, that last year, 10,000 young people became homeless because, through no fault of their own, they could no longer live with their parents.

She also urged the minister to think hard about the measure when nationally, "an estimated 400,000 households are headed by someone under 25 who claims housing benefit, half of whom have dependent children".

She said: "When he is having those discussions, will he consider the impact on children of his policy proposal?"

Mr Duncan Smith replied: "That would go without saying—all impacts on various groups will be taken into consideration. The main point I would make is that, no matter what else, if we were to implement such a policy, we would have to take into consideration categories of people who might find it incredibly difficult, such as those described by the hon. Lady. There would not necessarily be carte blanche—there would be nuances and changes. However, as I have said, discussions are ongoing, and as she can see, no policy exists at the moment."