IF YOU ARE UNDER 26 AND LOOSE YOUR JOB, CAMERON & THE NAZI DWP WILL MAKE YOU HOMELESS
Cameron to axe housing benefits for feckless under 25s as he declares war on welfare culture
Prime Minister gives exclusive interview to the MAIL ON SUNDAY
Reveals housing benefit will be scrapped for under 25s, who’ll be forced to live with their parents
Dole money will be stopped for those who refuse to find work
Mr Cameron shares his views on Euro2012, Jimmy Carr, and what really happened when he left his daughter in the pub
By Simon Walters
PUBLISHED: 22:10, 23 June 2012 | UPDATED: 23:18, 23 June 2012
Radical new welfare cuts targeting feckless couples who have children and expect to live on state handouts will be proposed by David Cameron tomorrow.
His bold reforms could also lead to 380,000 people under 25 being stripped of housing benefits and forced to join the growing number of young adults who still live with their parents.
In a keynote speech likely to inflame tensions with his deputy Nick Clegg, the Prime Minister will call for a debate on the welfare state, focusing on reforms to ‘working-age benefits’.
Among the ideas being considered by Mr Cameron are:
Scrapping most of the £1.8 billion in housing benefits paid to 380,000 under-25s, worth an average £90 a week, forcing them to support themselves or live with their parents.
Stopping the £70-a-week dole money for the unemployed who refuse to try hard to find work or produce a CV.
Forcing a hardcore of workshy claimants to do community work after two years on the dole – or lose all their benefits.
Well-placed sources say Ministers are also taking a fresh look at plans to limit child benefit to a couple’s first three children, although Mr Cameron is not expected to address this issue directly tomorrow.
Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Mr Cameron said: ‘We are sending out strange signals on working, housing and families.’
He argued that some young people lived with their parents, worked hard, planned ahead and got nothing from the State, while others left home, made little effort to seek work and got a home paid for by the benefits system.
‘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.’
Asked if he would take action against large families who were paid large sums in benefits, he replied:
‘This is a difficult area but it is right to pose questions about it. At the moment the system encourages people not to work and have children, but we should help people to work AND have children.’
His plan to axe housing benefit for the under-25s will have exemptions for special cases, such as domestic violence, but he said: ‘We are spending nearly £2 billion on housing benefit for under-25s – a fortune. We need a bigger debate about welfare and what we expect of people. The system currently sends the signal you are better off not working, or working less.’
He also favours new curbs on the Jobseeker’s Allowance, demanding the unemployed do more to find work. He said: ‘We aren’t even asking them, “Have you got a CV ready to go?” ’ A small minority of hardcore workshy, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000, could be forced to take part in community work if they fail or refuse to find work or training after two years.
The Prime Minister wants to show he is committed to radical policies, but his speech could exacerbate strains with Coalition partner Mr Clegg, whose Lib Dems oppose drastic welfare cuts.
It follows the row over plans to revive O-levels and will fuel rumours the Coalition could end long before the 2015 Election. ‘As leader of a political party as well as running a Coalition it’s right sometimes to make a more broad-ranging speech,’ said Mr Cameron.
A Government official said: ‘Decent folk are fed up with the increasing abuse of the welfare system. Responsible people who work damned hard, often on low incomes, to support themselves, are sick and tired of seeing others do nothing and live off the state.
‘Labour threw ever greater sums of money at the problem and made it worse. If we want to encourage responsibility we have be bold enough to tackle these issues. We suspect some of those who refuse point-blank to seek work are working on the black market and claiming fraudulently.’
But a Labour source said: ‘It is easy for rich Tories with big houses to have grown-up children at home while they find their feet. It’s different if you live in a tiny council flat and your daughter is a single mum.’ Ministers said curbs on housing benefit for the under-25s, had helped slash the welfare bill in Germany and Holland
‘It’s easy to plough on and say it’s too embarrassing to do a U-turn. If the facts change it’s braver to make changes. No one thinks this is a weak government’
Exclusive interview by Geordie greig, SIMON WALTERS
En route to meet Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, he went almost unnoticed, the tea trolley twice trundling past him, passengers edging by with luggage as his four detectives blended in.
The Red Box with Prime Minister engraved on it beside him was the only clue that this was the man in charge of Britain.
In Mexico he had attracted far more attention, but more for his derision of Jimmy Carr’s dodgy tax affairs than on his comments on international trade or the euro crisis.
And the subject inevitably arose as The Mail on Sunday spoke exclusively to the Prime Minister as the First Great Western service made its way through the Thames Valley.
‘It was a particularly egregious example of the tax-avoidance industry,’ he said. ‘I don’t think that’s right. You can differentiate between sensible tax-planning, putting money into a pension, looking after your family and so on, and very aggressive tax-avoidance schemes.’
As to the suggestion most tax-avoiders are Tories, he counters, not wholly convincingly: ‘The most prominent person involved in tax-avoidance recently was Ken Livingstone.’ He adds: ‘I want rich people to pay more taxes and to make sure we collect more taxes.’
But he argues that doesn’t mean a higher rate of tax. ‘If you go back to the Eighties, when the top rate was cut to 40 per cent, the percentage of tax taken from the top five per cent of earners went up.’ Yet Mr Cameron, with Nick Clegg, stopped George Osborne cutting back the top 50p rate to 40p in the recent, badly handled Budget, limiting the cut to 45p.
‘We need a crackdown on aggressive schemes,’ Mr Cameron said. ‘I want people to take risks so they can roll losses forward, but some of these schemes, like K2, are only about avoiding tax.’
Having been criticised by some for joining the outcry against Carr, Mr Cameron refuses to say if the comedian should pay back his tax. ‘I have said enough,’ he states.
His focus now is on a speech he will make tomorrow, where he will be tackling an issue that has bedevilled all governments – the fairness and cost of welfare. He wants to stop people who pay their way feeling resentment about the handouts taken by people who have become addicted to the dependency culture.
He will provoke a debate about radical change while pledging to keep the essential safety net for those in need. He plans to eradicate the culture of reliance and entitlement that makes people unable to wean themselves off benefits. ‘We are sending out strange signals on working, housing and families. Take two young people: one who has worked hard, got themselves a reasonable job and is living at home thinking, “Can I afford to buy or rent a flat?” whereas another has got himself on to Jobseeker’s Allowance and then gets housing benefit.
‘One is trapped into a welfare system that discourages them from working, the other is doing the right thing and getting no help.
‘We are still spending nearly £2 billion on housing benefit for under-25s – a fortune. We need a debate about welfare and what we expect of people.
‘The system currently sends the signal you are better off not working, or working less. It encourages people not to work and have children, but we should help people to work AND have children.’
Some of the measures will be introduced soon, but Mr Cameron will not embark on more radical ideas such as limiting child benefit unless he wins public support, and even then it won’t be until after the next Election.
Mr Cameron is increasingly thinking of his second term and the prospect of no longer being shackled to Coalition partner Nick Clegg, no fan of drastic welfare cuts.
Education Secretary Michael Gove’s provocative suggestion of a return to O-levels, without consulting the Lib Dems, was also significant as the Tories plan a ‘true blue’ manifesto.
Mr Cameron is keen to be seen as a radical, bold reformer, and is adamant the recent spate of U-turns does not betray a lack of resolve.
‘It’s easy to plough on and say it’s too embarrassing to do a U-turn. If the facts change, it’s braver to make changes. No one thinks this is a weak government.
‘We have the boldest welfare reforms and deficit-reduction plans in Europe. We have delivered a referendum lock on Europe, capping welfare, free schools, quadrupled council-house discounts in London – far beyond anything Margaret Thatcher or John Major delivered.’
Nor have the ‘pasty tax’ and ‘granny tax’ debacles, together with reports that the Chancellor’s stock among Cabinet colleagues has slumped, shaken his faith in his neighbour and friend. ‘Our relationship is as strong as ever,’ he insists.
Mr Cameron also counters reports from inside No 10 that he is becoming irked at the burgeoning ambition and self-confidence of Mr Gove. ‘I suffer from the opposite of tall-poppy syndrome,’ he says. ‘I want many tall poppies.
Mr Cameron denies rumours he is becoming irked at the burgeoning ambition and self-confidence of Mr Gove. ¿I suffer from the opposite of tall-poppy syndrome,¿ he says. ¿I want many tall poppies.
‘I like having Boris Johnson, who is charismatic and a big player on the Conservative stage. I not only appointed Michael Gove Education Secretary, I persuaded him to go into politics in the first place. I sat with Michael at my kitchen table night after night telling him, “You are a brilliant journalist but you will be an even more brilliant politician” and persuading his wife it wouldn’t be the end of their family life.
‘I didn’t make him Education Secretary for a quiet life. Mine and Michael’s children go to the same state school and we are every bit as ambitious for the children of the entire country as for our own. We just aren’t prepared to put up with second-rate standards in state schools. Michael has the courage to deliver it and I back him all the way. A lot of what he says is based on his life story.’
Mr Gove was brought up by adoptive parents in Aberdeen and state- educated before winning a scholarship to a private school. He is confident, but few would call him posh.
For his part, Mr Cameron, at the halfway mark of his first term, says that one secret to remaining on top of his job is carving out quiet time.
‘This morning I was up at 20 to six. I’ve already read thousands of words; you do 20 policy submissions before breakfast, as it were.
‘I get out of bed, go down to the kitchen, have a strong cup of coffee. It’s the most peaceful time of day, the phone doesn’t ring, no one disturbs me, the children don’t get up until a reasonable hour, fortunately – fingers crossed – and I’ve got total concentration. It’s the most important time of the day because your brain is in full gear, you have total silence and you’re alone with your work.’
In contrast, evenings are for relaxing, as much as he can. ‘At the end of a long day I might catch a bit of TV and then go to bed,’ he says.
Tonight he will watch the England-Italy game at home with his six-year-old son, Arthur Elwyn. ‘We had great bonding during the Sweden game,’ Mr Cameron says.
‘He is just getting interested in football and plays in our village.’
Mr Cameron also bonded with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the European Championships while in Mexico. ‘Mrs Merkel and I discussed football at some length,’ he said. ‘We were sat next to each other for most of the G20. She is passionate about it. We followed the England-Ukraine game together, she was very much on the English side.’
He jokily recognises that such a simple gesture of football support can cause a diplomatic hiccup, so does some nimble political footwork worthy of Danny Welbeck. Apparently about to spill the beans on why Mrs Merkel wanted England to teach Ukraine a lesson, he bites his tongue: ‘Err, I don’t want to spoil German-Ukrainian relations!
‘Mrs Merkel is extremely good company and is very knowledgeable about football. She knew all about the Chelsea-Bayern Munich Champions League final last month and the Lampard goal-line incident.’
Mr Cameron watching the recent Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders, at the G8 Summit in the US
But despite Mrs Merkel’s knowledge of the goal controversially disallowed when England met Germany in the World Cup two years ago, Mr Cameron admits he didn’t ask her views on goal-line technology.
‘I didn’t get on to that!’ he says. ‘She asked about a number of players. She was quite interested in the Danny Welbeck goal and thought Andy Carroll’s header was great.’
And so from bonding over football with his son to leaving his eight-year-old daughter Nancy behind in the pub near Chequers. Although it is every parent’s nightmare, he says he can now look back on the story with some amusement.
Mr Cameron’s idea of ‘chillaxing’? ‘Sam and I cooking supper, like we will tonight, and relaxing in front of the telly.’ It is a time when he knows there will be no scrutiny, no detectives and no one else around
‘I’ve had emails, texts, people coming up to me saying, “Oh, it could happen to all of us” and then they tell their story. “I was left in a service station, I was left outside the butcher’s, I was lost in a bookshop . . .” ’
Did he and Sam fall out over it? ‘No. We weren’t cross with each other because it’s so easy to see how it happened. We had another family with us, with lots of children, so both of us had bundled lots of children into the cars. I had five in mine – no, scrap that, that’s probably illegal! They were all wearing seat belts!
‘There was no finger-wagging afterwards and Nancy has promised not to brief against me – she actually used that term, she is learning fast. She was calm, though there has been a bit of teasing. She was in the loo when we left, she said, “I came out, went to the car park, you weren’t there, I went back to the pub, you weren’t there and then the barman had me wait at the tables.”
‘She described it very matter-of-factly. We got back so quickly there wasn’t time for any big worry, but lesson learned, we now count them all out and count them in regularly.’
Mr Cameron constantly refers to family life as his anchor in politics. ‘I turn to my family always when I need support,’ he says. He is also happy to acknowledge his religious faith but is unwilling to dwell on his private beliefs, saying only: ‘I pray when I go to church.’
And as to his idea of ‘chillaxing’? ‘Sam and I cooking supper, like we will tonight, and relaxing in front of the telly.’ It is a time when he knows there will be no scrutiny, no detectives and no one else around.
He makes no apology for grabbing down-time with his family, away from the politics and the media, jokily adding: ‘My definition of happiness is getting to page 25 of The Mail on Sunday and finding there is nothing about me!’
He dismisses any charges of being out of touch, arguing he sees ordinary life in his constituency. ‘I’m lucky, I have a well-paid job and my wife works very hard, so I’m fortunate. But I’m not cut off from people’s concerns. I have never had any trouble connecting with people.’
He is super-fit, sleek and impeccably groomed, oozing confidence and enjoyment in his role. But tiny grey hairs are visible on the back of his head, evidence that perhaps the burden of office takes some toll.
One sacrifice is that he finds less time to read for pleasure. ‘But I try to read a few pages before going to bed,’ he says. ‘I’ve always got some weighty tome on the go, sometimes more than one, and I try to read a few novels on holiday.’
His favourite poem? Wilfred Owen’s First World War classic Dulce Et Decorum Est, which he learned at school. ‘Good poetry can move you,’ he says.
He is also learning from Winston Churchill’s political experience. ‘I have just finished Max Hastings’ book on Churchill’s Finest Years,’ he says. ‘He details some of Churchill’s less good decisions.
‘The Chief of Defence Staff often tells me, “Don’t get involved in tactical decisions.” I don’t entirely agree. Part of the job of PM is to ask awkward questions, to kick the tyres.’
Mexico was a chance for him to do that as he strutted the world stage but he is sensitive to the hard times most Britons are facing, and speaks of how hard he worked there: ‘The sand never pressed between my toes and I didn’t go near the hotel pool – though I did go to the gym.
‘We aren’t just sitting round waiting for the eurozone crisis to ease. I have led trade missions to virtually every G20 country bar Brazil and Argentina. I hope to do Brazil – though perhaps not Argentina at the moment,’ he chuckles, contemplating the reception he might get in Buenos Aires as tensions over the Falklands resurface.
And so with a croissant and a cup of coffee inside him, it was on to see Aung San Suu Kyi, but also to meet constituents – who, he knows, care more about a neighbour ripping off the state through handouts and Jimmy Carr and his dodgy tax deals than international posturing