Isabel Hardman

Cut housing benefit for under-25s? Yes, but be careful, say Tory members

Cut housing benefit for under-25s? Yes, but be careful, say Tory members
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George Osborne might have failed to get his housing benefit cut for the under-25s past the Lib Dems in time for the Autumn Statement, but, as James reported in his Mail on Sunday column this week, the Tories will be keen to put it in their 2015 manifesto, partly to show voters what a majority Conservative government could achieve without the shackles of coalition.

I understand the party has been consulting members on its welfare policy in the past few weeks, and unsurprisingly, the response has been enormous. In fact, the policy forum hasn't seen such interest from members since it asked them what they wanted to see in terms of local transport policy (apparently this really aerated those surveyed last winter).

Interestingly, the response has been a little more nuanced than you might expect. While members are largely supportive of the idea, they have raised concerns about the effect of cutting support to young people leaving care (something former children's minister Tim Loughton is also worried about), who do not have the family network that other under-25s might fall back on. The discussion paper also asked whether under-25s should be eligible for council housing, and this provoked a similar response. The results are still being collated, but it's clear that to keep Tory voters and MPs who are experts in this field happy, the 2015 pledge on benefit cuts will need to include some clear caveats.