Cameron indicates under-25s to lose welfare
David Cameron has pledged a Conservative majority government would strip benefits from under-25s in a move to ensure they either "earn or learn."
The idea, which sources suggested was likely to be a manifesto promise, was floated in his keynote speech to the Conservative annual conference today.
In the address in Manchester, he asked for the Conservatives to be given the chance to “finish the job we’ve started” by being returned as a majority government at the 2015 general election.
The Prime Minister said the UK economy was “beginning to turn the corner” and pledged to build “a land of opportunity for all” by backing business, home-ownership and education as times get better.
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He signalled that the Tory manifesto for 2015 will include measures to prevent young people claiming unemployment benefits after leaving school or college, saying that every under-25 should be “earning or learning”.
And he made clear his intention to reduce taxes, telling activists: “We’re Tories. We believe in low taxes. And believe me – we will keep on cutting the taxes of hard-working people.”
But he also warned of further austerity following the election, even if the recent return to growth is sustained, insisting Tories will stick to their economic course “until we’ve paid off all of Labour’s deficit, not just some of it” and will run a surplus – spending less than they take in from tax and other revenues – even after the deficit is eliminated.
Mr Cameron’s address sought to draw clear dividing lines with Labour, accusing Ed Miliband of adopting an anti-business agenda and dismissing his promises to cut the cost of living as “all sticking plasters and quick fixes”.
But he said that he wanted to do more than simply “clear up the mess” left by the Labour administration
“Let us pledge today that we will build something better – a land of opportunity,” he said. “A country built on that enduring principle, seared in our hearts, that if you work hard, save, play by the rules and do your fair share – then nothing should stand in your way.”
The only major policy announcement appeared to be "bold action" to tackle one million young people not in education, employment or training. No 10 has yet to clarify what benefits - such as the dole or housing - young people could no longer be entitled to.
Mr Cameron told delegates: "Today it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits. It’s time for bold action here.
“We should ask, as we write our next manifesto, if that option should really exist at all. Instead we should give young people a clear, positive choice: go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job.
“But just choose the dole? We’ve got to offer them something better than that. And let no one paint ideas like this as callous.
“Think about it: with your children, would you dream of just leaving them to their own devices, not getting a job, not training, nothing?
“No – you’d nag and push and guide and do anything to get them on their way… and so must we. So this is what we want to see: everyone under 25 – earning or learning.
“And you know – on this, as on everything else, Labour will fight us but remember: we are giving people real opportunities.”