UK & World News
PM's Plan To Axe Housing Benefit For The Young
Hundreds of thousands of young people could lose their housing benefit under a series of radical welfare reforms revealed by David Cameron.
The suggested shake-up would see the removal of most of the £1.8bn 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.
Also among the measures is a plan to stop the £70-a-week dole payment for individuals deemed not to be trying hard enough to get work.
The overhaul could also see a hard core of unemployed people forced to do community work after two years - or lose all their benefits.
It comes as it emerged Mr Cameron's flagship "big society" was lambasted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The proposed changes to the welfare system are due to be laid out by the Prime Minister in a speech on Monday.
But in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he insisted the existing system was giving the wrong incentives and urged more action to prevent feckless families relying on state handouts.
According to the newspaper, ministers are also looking again at plans to limit child benefit to a couple's first three children - although Mr Cameron will stop short of raising the idea.
The Prime Minister said the existing benefits system was "sending out strange signals on working, housing and families".
"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," he said.
"'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.
"We are spending nearly £2bn on housing benefit for under-25s - a fortune. The system currently sends the signal you are better off not working, or working less."
Sky News readers have contacted us with their own stories.
One woman, a 21-year-old single mother, said if it was not for her housing benefit, she believes she would not be able to support herself or her two-and-a-half-year-old son.
"I still have food, electric, gas, nappies to buy... I can barely afford to live as it is, let alone if they cut the money all together," she wrote.
"If there were lower childcare costs, I would jump at the chance to work straight away as I have lots of qualifications in many different areas, ranging from bricklaying to photography.
"So if it was easier to get the childcare, people would work. I would work!"
A 24-year-old newly-qualified teacher (NQT) with a young daughter told Sky News she felt withdrawing housing benefit for under 25s was an outrageous decision.
She has been able to find work, but her husband has been unemployed for the past year, and says her family have survived on child and housing benefits, and a student loan.
"I can not conceive how someone in the same situation as us could possibly survive without that money - as for me, it seems that the Government are intent on punishing those who are trying to make an honest, decent living," she said.
"By withdrawing the PGCE (teacher training) funding after the places on the course were awarded , and reinstating the funding in the next academic year, there is a small minority of NQTs with nothing to their names but debt and regret.
"I have a young family to support and our Government are determined to make that almost impossible to do, despite my good education and dedication I seem to be getting nowhere."
The Prime Minister's hard line on benefits could exacerbate strains with Liberal Democrat coalition partner Nick Clegg, after a damaging recent split over proposals to axe GCSEs.