Last week the Prime Minister, David Cameron promised to withdraw housing benefit and jobseekers allowance from the under 25 age group. He did so while claiming that he wants to make Britain ‘a land of opportunity for all’. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. There are around a million of our young people, often in the poorest and most deprived areas, who, largely and through no fault of their own are not in education or training or employment. These are the so called ‘Neets’, who Cameron clearly has destined for the streets, for there no other way of interpreting his new pledge.
The vast majority of our young people are ambitious to find jobs, to move into their own home and to make lives of their own. But youth unemployment is high, social housing is short in supply and it is virtually impossible for them to get on the first rung of the housing market – especially in London. What are they supposed to do in David Cameron’s brave new ‘land of opportunity’, if the jobs aren’t there and the training isn’t fit for purpose? Are they supposed to live with their families, if their families are able to support them? What if their families are unable to do so, or some young people have no families on whom to fall back? The reality is that many more people are likely to find themselves on the streets, without work and without a roof over their heads. Sadly, I fear that David Cameron’s brave new vision is more likely to manifest itself in more crime and more social disorder.
If this was a government that really did care about people, instead of an already privileged minority, it would be going out of its way to build hundreds of thousands of starter homes for our young people and intervening in the market to create decent, well paid, wealth creating jobs for the country. But it doesn’t care, and somehow believes that the free market will deliver on the Prime Minister’s sometimes warm, other times, menacing words.
David Cameron is living in cloud cuckoo land. And it is our youngsters who will suffer.