Mark Steel: Who gets something for nothing?

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The Independent Online

How can anyone match that? A PM born into canyons of wealth condemns the "something-for-nothing culture". He's like a great sportsman, a Messi or Usain Bolt, who's so far ahead you can't imagine how to stop him.

Some might try to match him for admirably brazen hypocrisy. The Queen might have a go, starting her Christmas speech with, "This year, my thoughts turned to the fact that what makes me sick are people who have extravagant celebrations on the anniversary of their jobs."

The category of loafers he's decided to target is people under 25 who claim housing benefit. But there's been no announcement yet on how he's planning to stop the something-for-nothing types whose tax avoidance costs around £90bn a year. So if housing benefit claimants are a priority, they must be swiping more than that. There must be groups of 20-year-olds claiming they're living in the Taj Mahal at 10 million quid a week.

The argument is that young people don't need housing benefit as they could move back to the room they lived in as a child, in their parents' home. This might make sense, only most 25-year-olds have ceased to be a child and are now 25. So the room they had with a bedspread with sea creatures on it isn't really suitable now because they might have moved away, or be married or have an engineering degree in a way that would have been less likely when they were eight. You might as well ban them from using a library because they could go back to having books read to them by their mum, or insist they have no need for social security because if they're hungry they can ask their mum to express breast milk, instead of expecting food for nothing.

So the Etonian PM with a millionaire stockbroker father, and a wife worth £20m, and a Chancellor who inherited £5m from his father, are determined to stop these people getting something for nothing. You can try but it's not easy to beat. Sebastian Coe telling the Dalai Lama not to look so smug. Josef Fritzl lamenting the decline of family values. No, it can't be done.