UK & World News
PM: We Must End 'Culture Of Entitlement'
David Cameron has outlined moves toward slashing benefits for families and young people - warning that the welfare system is causing deep social divisions.
The Prime Minister has laid out plans to strip housing benefit from the under-25s, forcing them to live with their parents.
He has also floated time-limited unemployment benefit, and hinted at restricting handouts for those who have large numbers of children.
To his core supporters, Mr Cameron's welfare crackdown is a new solution to an old problem - how to make sure people do not do better out of work than in it.
But, to his detractors, it is a cruel shifting of the goalposts, with the Government ducking its responsibility to ensure the economy generates employment.
Undeterred, the Prime Minister said: "We have, in some ways, created a welfare gap in this country - between those living long-term in the welfare system and those outside it.
"Those within it grow up with a series of expectations - you can have a home of your own, the state will support you whatever decisions you make, you will always be able to take out no matter what you put in.
"This has sent out some incredibly damaging signals. That it pays not to work. That you are owed something for nothing.
"It gave us millions of working-age people sitting at home on benefits even before the recession hit. It created a culture of entitlement.
"And it has led to huge resentment amongst those who pay into the system, because they feel that what they're having to work hard for, others are getting without having to put in the effort."
At this stage, Mr Cameron is not talking about Government policy, only the potential direction of travel.
But it is clear that he would like to see people having to make more effort to find jobs, or risk losing the dole.
Controversially, he favours the removal of housing benefit for most under-25s.
"I want to stress that a lot of these young people will genuinely need a roof over their head, like those leaving foster care, or those with a terrible, destructive home life - and we must always be there for them," his pitch went on.
"But there are many who will have a parental home and somewhere to stay - they just want more independence.
"The point is this: the system we inherited encourages them to grab that independence, rather than earn it. So we have to ask, 'Up to what age should we expect people to be living at home?'"
It is a radical posture, and one that cuts little ice with either the Labour opposition, or with campaigners for the homeless.
Shelter maintains that, as around half of under-25s on housing benefit have children, the changes envisaged would generate serious and widespread hardship.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: "This is a hazy and half-baked plan when we need a serious back-to-work programme for young families.
"Many young families with their first foot on the career ladder will be knocked off if help with their rent is taken away.
"And young families that want to work won't be able to move where the jobs are."
It is also clear to the Conservative leadership that the ideas mooted will find little favour with its coalition partners - though that would appear to be part of the plan.
Most commentators believe it is designed to deflect attention from the party's internal difficulties that started with the rows over the Budget and are now focused on the Government's plans for Lords reforms - plans that Liberal Democrats love as much as many Tories hate.
In the longer term, the Prime Minister's pitch seems part of a strategy for the next election - staking out distinctive Tory territory.
His hope, naturally, is for his party to win outright.
The fear is that swathes of vulnerable people could turn out to be the losers.