Conservatives plan to link youth jobseeker payments to ‘community work'

Neil Puffett
Monday, September 29, 2014

Young people aged 18 to 21 and out of work or training for more than six months will need to do community work to continue receiving jobseeker's allowance (JSA), Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

The Conservative leader, speaking during the Conservative conference in Birmingham, said he wants to “abolish” youth unemployment and prevent young people going directly from school to a life on welfare.

Under the plans, young people not in education, employment or training would be able to claim JSA for up to six months while they find work or a training placement.

But if they are unable to find work in that time, the Conservatives want to stop their JSA payments unless they agreed to volunteer for work in the community.

This would entitle them to a "youth allowance" which would be set at the same level as JSA - currently £57.35 a week for 16- to 24-year-olds.

The overall amount that people will be able to claim in benefits in a single year will be reduced by £3,000 from the current level of £26,000.

Savings would be used to fund more apprenticeships.

Cameron said: “Our ambition is to abolish youth unemployment and make it the case that it’s simply not possible anymore to finish school, leave home, sign on and get a flat through housing benefit. That should not be possible.”

Balbir Chatrik, director of policy at the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, said housing benefit "isn’t a lifestyle choice for homelessness young people, it’s a necessity".

"Severing this lifeline would have a catastrophic impact on their futures," he added.

"Centrepoint gives young people the support they need to find work or return to education, giving them a route out of homelessness. But our work begins with providing a safe place to stay.

"The promise of more apprenticeships is an important one but must not come at the expense of exposing more young people to the dangers of living on the streets.” 

The proposals, which will feature in the Conservative general election manifesto, were first mooted at last year’s Conservative conference.

Labour also wants to make changes to benefits for young people.

In June, the party’s leader Ed Miliband said he would scrap out-of-work benefits for unemployed 18- to 21-year-olds in favour of a training-based, means-tested system.

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