Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Red lines from Cameron's welfare changes

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

So David Cameron wants to ban anyone under 25 for claiming JSA or housing benefit. Well Dave, not every young person is in a benefited position where both their parents are still alive and that work is always going to be available to them, these are red lines over which I will not allow the Conservatives to cross.

When I graduated it was in the middle of the last recession. Banks had been laying off economics graduates who had experience, so how was I along with other economics graduates going to find work immediately. For five months I would have been classified as a NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) but it wasn't because I wanted to be, it was because there was a lack of options.

I needed the then unemployment benefit and housing benefit to be able to stay in the part of the country where I felt I was most likely to get work, London. I'd been to University there and my network of friends was there to help me through those tough times.

But then there were the friends of mine who were orphaned before they had even left secondary education. I know that their grandparents were still around but if they weren't how could they have survived trying to get an education without housing benefit?

There are also a whole range of LGBT young people who are kicked out of the family home as soon as they turn 16, or tell their parents. Again without access to things like housing benefit these young people will either stay at home in the closet living in fear or end up living on the streets. Or the young girls who get pregnant and instead of familial support are kicked out? Or those who get pregnant and leave to live with the child's father only to be abandoned?

Not everyone has the nice comfy start in life that David Cameron would like to have us all believe. Some of those benefits are lifelines to many for all manner of reasons. So unless Dave can guarantee full time employment, or immediate training for ANY young person as soon as they lose their job, for whatever reason, removing these benefits and access to them is wrong. It is enslaving young people to a conformity of expectation of a loving family.

Not every young person has a privileged Witney upbringing, in our inner cities, even in our suburban areas, and to be fair possibly even in Witney, things aren't always so rosy.

This is why the Conservatives cannot be trusted to build a Fairer Society. They are only interested in a Stronger Economy at all costs. Only the Liberal Democrats seek to build a Stronger Economy and a Fairer Society enabling every person to get on with life.

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