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Keighley MP backs David Cameron's ‘no dole for under-25s’ plan
David Cameron’s surprise threat to strip dole money from jobless under-25s who refuse training has been backed by one of the district’s MPs.
Kris Hopkins, the Conservative MP for Keighley, threw his weight behind the hardline move, unveiled at the close of the party’s conference in Manchester.
He said: “All our young people should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential, and education and training are vital if they are to succeed.
“Choosing a life on benefits should no longer be an option and, if you are fit to work or be in education or training, then you should be.”
Mr Hopkins spoke up after Mr Cameron said a future Conservative government would expect young people to be “earning or learning” – or lose all state support.
He had already vowed to dock housing benefit for under-25s – a policy blocked by the Liberal Democrats – but went much further in his Manchester speech.
Denying removing unemployment benefit was “callous”, the prime minister said: “There are still over a million young people not in education, employment, or training.
“Today, it is still possible to leave school, sign on, find a flat, start claiming housing benefit and opt for a life on benefits. It’s time for bold action.
“We should give young people a clear, positive choice: Go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job. But just choose the dole? We’ve got to offer them something better than that.”
Afterwards, No.10 aides said details were still being worked out, but insisted the aim was to prevent the young becoming “trapped in a cycle of unemployment and benefit dependency”.
Carers and the disabled would be exempt and under-25s could now retain housing benefit, provided they did not refuse a job or training.
The idea was the one new policy in a 56-minute speech in which a tired-looking Mr Cameron – with large bags under his eyes – urged voters to trust the Tories to secure economic recovery.
The phrase “finish the job” was uttered no fewer than 15 times – and Labour mentioned 25 times, as the prime minister tore into Ed Miliband for “bashing business”.
In a crucial dividing line, Mr Cameron said: “Labour is saying to employers ‘we want to put up your taxes, don’t come here – stick your jobs and take them elsewhere’.
“I know that bashing business might play to a Labour audience, but it’s crazy for our country. So, if Labour’s plan for jobs is to attack business, ours is to back business.”
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