"The Tories will have to decide whether young single parents will be hit, since they account for an estimated 40 per cent of Housing Benefit claims by under 25s." The Independent, 3 October 2013
"And 380,000 young people are claiming housing benefit. One in four of these is a parent — not just single mothers but married couples too. They will suffer most from this callous policy." The Mirror, 4 October 2013
This article has been updated to include the claim made in the Mirror and the latest Housing Benefit statistics.
In his speech at the Conservative conference, David Cameron hinted at a draft new policy which would see young people under 25 losing their Housing Benefit and Job Seeker's Allowance if they are not in work, education or training.
"This is what we want to see: everyone under 25 — earning or learning."
The Independent dubs it the "earn or learn" scheme and says it will be put in place if and when the Conservatives win the 2015 General Election.
According to the paper it remains to be seen whether single parents will be left out of the scheme, adding that according to estimates single parents account for 40% of Housing Benefit claims made by under-25s.
This is confirmed by Department for Work and Pensions statistics which we retrieved with the DWP's new Stats Xplore tool and have uploaded here. The statistics reveal that there are 361,340 under 25s claiming Housing Benefit. 166,579 of these (46%) are single and have children. The great majority (98%) of under 25 single parent claimants are women. This is out of a total 5 million claimants across all ages.
On average, single young parents receive £103 per week in Housing Benefit, whereas under 25s receive £95 per week on average.
These statistics don't chime with the numbers cited in the Mirror. The number of under-25 claimants hasn't been as high as the Mirror claims (380,000) since August 2012. As for the claim that one in four of them is a parent, this is not reflected by any of the statistics we have seen. We will be writing to the Mirror to ask for clarification on their source.
Flickr image courtesy of The Shopping Sherpa
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