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In his speech on welfare on welfare given at Bluewater, Kent on 25 June 2012, the Prime Minister put forward a number of ideas for future benefit reforms. The proposals for consideration included removing access to Housing Benefit for people aged 16-24, and preventing school leavers from claiming benefits straight away.

The tax-benefit system already treats people aged 18-24 differently from those aged 25 or over in a number of respects:

• The Income Support and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance personal allowance for an 18-24 year old is lower than that for a person aged 25 or over;

• For most under 25s, Housing Benefit is restricted to an amount judged sufficient to rent a single room in the relevant locality, rather than self-contained accommodation (this provision was extended to under 35s from January 2012);

• Young people aged 18-24 who have been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance for nine months are referred to the Work Programme, whereas those aged 25 or over are placed on the programme after twelve months; and

• People under 25, unless they have children or a disability, are not entitled to in-work support through the Working Tax Credit.

This note looks at the background to these rules, and at the rationale for them.

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