THE Conservatives have unveiled plans to boost the number of apprenticeships by taking money from youth benefits.
A six-month limit on unemployment handouts coupled with a stricter £23,000 cap on household benefits will be included in the next Tory manifesto, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed.
Under the plans, three million new apprenticeships will be created over the five-year length of the next Parliament, funded by slashing the benefits cap by £3,000 from its current limit,and by preventing 18 to 21-year-olds from claiming housing benefit if they leave home.
Mr Cameron said: “At heart, I want us to effectively abolish youth unemployment. I want us to end the idea that aged 18 you can leave school, go and leave home, claim unemployment benefit and claim housing benefit.
“We shouldn’t be offering that choice to young people; we should be saying, ‘you should be earning or learning’.”
Mr Cameron said there would be provision for a benefits allowance only up to six months.
He added: “We are not talking about those people with children.
“This is about single people aged 18 to 21... you can start a life of dependency and that is no life at all, that is no future for your children when you do have them.
“We are saying, save that money, make sure after six months every one of those young people has to be in a job or in training and use the savings to provide three million apprentices.”
The Tories believe that benefit cuts are a vote winner although they are likely to be strongly criticised by anti-poverty campaigners.
Chris Goulden from the York-based social policy think tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Providing routes to secure, well-paying work is the right approach to reducing poverty. But this should not come at the expense of people in receipt of out-of-work benefits.”