About 2m young adults still living with their parents would be offered government loans so they could move out and rent a home under a plan to be included in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto.
The Help to Rent scheme, which would be a key Lib Dem demand in any post-election negotiations on another coalition, would allow 18-30 year-olds to borrow the money for a one or two-month rent advance or tenancy deposit. The state loans would be worth up to £2,000 in London and up to £1,500 in the rest of the country for people in work and could be paid back over 12 months or two years. The interest rate would the same as for student loans, currently 2.5 per cent.
The policy is designed to help what has been dubbed the “boomerang” or “clipped wing generation” who still live with their parents despite having jobs. Many struggle to save enough to start renting.
In an interview with The Independent, Nick Clegg said: “Increasingly, we see young people stuck in the family home as they can’t afford the upfront costs of a deposit to rent a property. It’s simply unfair that thousands of hard-working young people still have to live in the same bedroom they lived in when children.” He added: “When you get your own job, you want to stand on your own two feet, have your own space, and not have to rely on the bank of mum and dad.”
General election 2015: The worst gaffes and controversies
General election 2015: The worst gaffes and controversies
1/35 4 May: Milibrand part 2
Russell Brand dramatically unveiled the second part of his interview with Ed Miliband, in which he agreed with the leader and then called on his YouTube viewers to vote Labour. David Cameron had described him as a "joke" who previously advocated not voting - but with Brand commanding more than a million YouTube subscribers that may come back to haunt the Tories.
2/35 3 May: #EdStone
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveiled Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings. He said it showed his commitment to keep promises - but many mocked the "risible" stunt and said it would be the "tombstone" for Labour's election hopes.
3/35 2 May: Ukip candidate suspended
A Ukip candidate who described himself as “unapologetically politically incorrect pro-British” was suspended after suggesting Shadow Minister Luciana Berger had split loyalties because she is Jewish. In one Twitter message Jack Sen, standing in West Lancashire, said: “Protect child benefits? If you had it your way you'd send the £ to Poland/ Israel.”
4/35 1 May: 'It's all about my career... I mean country'
Labour jumped on another David Cameron gaffe after the PM said on the campaign trail that the election was a “career defining” moment when he meant to say “country defining”. Ed Miliband's party pounced, saying the remarks were proof Mr Cameron “puts his career before the country”. “It’s all about Dave,” the party tweeted.
5/35 30 April: The Sun has got two hats on
The Sun revealed who it was supporting in the election - both the Tories and, in Scotland, the SNP. While the UK edition of the newspaper called on the British public to vote Conservative so as to "stop [the] SNP running the country", The Scottish Sun announced its support for Nicola Sturgeon's party saying it will "fight harder for Scotland's interests at Westminster".
6/35 29 April: Complacent Conservative?
Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith failed to turn up to hustings in his own constituency following a 'late change in his schedule'. Wags observed that it was ironic given the minister has ramped up monetary sanctions against people who do not attend job interviews or JobCentre meetings.
7/35 28 April: Offensively independent
An independent candidate standing in Northern Ireland proudly came up with the least 'politically correct' leaflet of the campaign. Susan-Anne White declared she would criminalise adultery and homosexuality, end sex education, reinstate corporal punishment and much more.
8/35 26 April: The Ed and Boris bust-up
In what was widely hailed as the best bit of election TV so far, Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson clashed head-to-head in angry scenes live on the Andrew Marr Show, forcing their usually genial host to intervene and tell the pair of them to "shut up". The increasingly animated London Mayor repeated personal attacks over Mr Miliband 'stabbing his brother in the back', while the Labour leader got in some jibes of his own about Mr Johnson's Eton education.
9/35 25 April: Political football
David Cameron’s football-loving credentials received a kicking at a campaign event in Croydon after he suggested to the audience he supported West Ham- despite previously claiming he was a huge Aston Villa fan. When asked about his sudden change in loyalty, Cameron later said he was still a Villa fan and blamed the slip up on a 'brain fade'.
10/35 24 April: Migrant crisis made political
Ed Miliband was branded 'shameful' by Downing Street after he said David Cameron was partly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. The Labour leader said the Prime Minister’s role in creating instability in Libya had contributed to thousands of north Africans drowning in the Mediterranean as they try to flee the crisis. A senior Tory called the comments 'deeply provocative'
11/35 23 April: IFS accusations
Voters are being kept 'in the dark' by all the main parties over future spending cuts and tax rises, the influential Institute for Fiscal studies said. A detailed study of the party manifestos by the think-tank concluded that none of the Lib Dems, Labour, the Conservatives or SNP had provided "anything like full details" on plans to cut the deficit over the next five-year Parliament.
12/35 22 April: The not-so-Green Party
A group of leading scientists and campaigners rounded on the Green Party, accusing it of turning its back on its main mission by largely ignoring the crucial issue of climate change in the run-up to the general election. Critics said that although the Green Party manifesto contains plenty of references to policies on global warming, the party was 'grievously at fault' for leaving the subject largely unspoken in campaigning by the party and its leader, Natalie Bennett.
13/35 21 April: Wikipedia edits
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps was accused of editing the Wikipedia pages of his Conservative rivals and allegedly changing his own page to delete embarrassing references to his past. A Wikipedia administrator reported and suspended an account called 'Contribsx' on suspicion it was being used by Mr Shapps or 'someone acting on his behalf'.
14/35 20 April: Dodgy Tory donors?
The Conservatives were forced to return more than £50,000 in donations from a businesswoman whose husband was convicted of tax fraud in the US. Beatrice Tollman, who donated £20,000 as recently as early April, was herself charged with conspiracy to evade millions of dollars’ worth of tax in the US, charges that were dismissed by a judge in 2008
15/35 19 April: Miliband a hit among the hens
Ed Miliband was described as "the stripper" by a group of women on a hen party in Chester after they spotted the parked-up Labour battle bus. But not everyone saw it as statesmanlike behaviour, some saying it was 'cringe-worthy' and others reporting he looked 'absolutely terrified'
16/35 18 April: DUP on gay marriage
A right-wing Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland politician thanked Nick Clegg for 'reminding' voters that they are seeking to abolish same-sex marriage. After the Lib Dems set up a satirical website accusing the DUP of wanting to 'reject gay rights', North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said he was grateful to Mr Clegg 'for reminding people of the pivotal role the DUP can play'
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
17/35 17 April: Labour 'metaphors'
A Labour candidate was forced to apologise for “getting carried away with colourful metaphors” after making a joke about being caught in a threesome with Ed Miliband and a goat. Clive Lewis, a former reporter for BBC Look East who is now standing in Norwich South, said "anything could happen" when asked if he could be beaten by the Greens. After the Miliband example caused a bit of a backlash he added: "If anyone was genuinely offended then I'm sincerely sorry for that."
18/35 16 April: Ukip candidate calls Islam 'evil cult'
A Ukip candidate standing for Parliament faced being sacked by the party after describing Islam as an “evil cult”. Stephen Latham, who is fighting the West Bromwich East seat, made the remarks in a Facebook post. He later said: "I wouldn’t have meant it about Islam itself. It would have been about the people causing problems."
19/35 15 April: Labour candidate 'forgets manifesto'
A video emerged of a Labour candidate suffering a terrifically awkward 'brain fade' and failing to name her party’s key policies. During an interview with local website The Chiswick Calendar, Ruth Cadbury (running for Brentford and Isleworth) froze: "Um… I can’t remember my key… I do need to check… I’m reading them every day... er… sorry… Labour’s key policies..."
The Chiswick Calendar
20/35 14 April: Tory candidate 'wristbands'
There were calls and a petition for the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cambridge to stand down, after she said that mental health patients could wear colour-coded wristbands to identify their conditions. Chamali Fernando was accused of showing 'prejudice' and 'remind[ing] us how far we have to go' by mental health campaigners
21/35 13 April: Smarter than a 10-year-old?
Former PR man David Cameron is used to spinning his way out of trouble against the most challenging interviewers - yet came completely unstuck on a visit to a primary school for Newsround. With his guard down, 10-year-old Reema asked: 'If you could pick one politician apart from yourself to win who would it be and why?' Cameron said it was the 'best' question he'd had so far on the campaign, um-ed, ah-ed and failed to give a clear answer.
22/35 9 April: Ukip's porn star candidate
A mini-scandal surrounded Ukip's Bristol branch when it emerged the vice chair had an unusual second job as a veteran porn star. The party insisted it was happy to support candidates regardless of what they did in their spare time, adding proudly that 'no other party' would have taken John Langley - aka 'Johnny Rockard'.
23/35 8 April: Ed Balls on non-doms
No sooner had Ed Miliband announced a popular Labour policy to scrap the non-dom tax status, a video emerged of Ed Balls explaining how such a move would end up costing Britain more.
24/35 5 April: Tories taking care of business (owners)
In an interview with this newspaper Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, revealed that a senior Conservative minister told a Liberal Democrat cabinet colleague: 'You take care of the workers and we’ll take care of the bosses' in a private Whitehall meeting to discuss the Coalition Government’s priorities.
25/35 3 April: Nicola Sturgeon 'memo'
Nicola Sturgeon was forced to deny telling the French ambassador she wanted the Tories to win the election in May in preference to Labour, after a 'memo' to that effect was leaked to the Telegraph.
26/35 2 April: Nigel Farage on HIV
UKIP leader Nigel Farage sparked controversy during the ITV Leader's Debate 2015 for saying that immigrants who were HIV positive should not be able to enter the country and use the NHS for free.
Ken McKay/ITV via Getty Images
27/35 29 March: Labour mugs
Senior Labour MP Diane Abbott was among those who led a backlash against a mug being sold by the party celebrating its new commitment to a tough immigration system.
28/35 23 March: Ukip's Atkinson expelled
Janice Atkinson, an MEP and once one of Ukip's most senior figures, was expelled after she was found to have brought the party into disrepute. Ms Atkinson’s chief of staff was secretly recorded appearing to ask the manager of a restaurant in Margate to more than treble the £950 cost of a meal before Ukip’s spring conference. Nigel Farage later said the claims 'couldn't look worse'.
Chris Radburn/PA Wire
29/35 8 January: 'Meet the Ukippers'
Ukip councillor Rozanne Duncan was expelled from the party for saying she had a problem with black people because there was 'something about their faces' during filming for the BBC documentary 'Meet the Ukippers'
30/35 20 November: Emily Thornberry and the white van
Labour front bench MP Emily Thornberry was forced to resign after tweeted a photo of a house in Rochester adorned with three England flags and a white van out the front, which saw her accused of holding working class voters in 'contempt'.
31/35 22 October: Ukip Calypso
The former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read was forced to apologise for "unintentionally causing offence" with his song Ukip Calypso and asked his record company to withdraw it. The song, which the Surrey-born disc jockey sang in a mock Jamaican accent, had been branded “racist”.
32/35 7 October: Forgetful Boris
During his Ask Boris show on LBC prior to the Clacton by-election last year, the London Mayor was asked by Nick Ferrari who the Tory candidate was. Boris replied: "We've got a fantastic guy called - oh he’s brilliant… I don’t know... he is superb man .. Stirling? Girling? Something like that… what’s he called? You tell me." It was Giles Watling, Boris.
33/35 18 August: Janice Atkinson
The senior Ukip MEP was forced to apologise after she was recorded by BBC South East Today describing a Thai constituent as 'a Ting Tong from somewhere'. It wasn't enough to see her disowned by the party - that came later when she was caught in a newspaper sting relating to expenses
34/35 16 May (2014): Nigel Farage on LBC
Nigel Farage's car-crash performance on LBC was one of his worst in recent years, and culminated in him saying he would be 'uncomfortable' with a Romanian family moving in next door. The gaffe later saw Ukip take out a full-page newspaper advert insisting it was not a racist party.
35/35 20 March (2014): 'Patronising' Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps, the Conservative chairman, came under pressure from across the political spectrum after a 'patronising' tweet in which he suggested Budget measures to halve bingo tax and cut the price of beer by 1p would 'help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy'
The Deputy Prime Minister was interviewed on his yellow battlebus as he toured constituencies in Cornwall, Dorset and Hampshire held by the Lib Dems which the Conservatives hope to seize. He admitted that his party was not fighting a traditional campaign and is not even prioritising some of the 57 seats it is defending because they are likely to be lost.
Although Mr Clegg was a remarkably upbeat mood, he was reminded that his personal unpopularity is an election issue. In North Cornwall, Dan Rogerson, who is defending the seat, is not using Mr Clegg’s name or even the Lib Dem brand in his campaign literature. In Mid Dorset and North Poole, the Lib Dem candidate Vikki Slade does not mention Mr Clegg in her eight-page campaign magazine, although she does name-check Danny Alexander and Steve Webb, the Lib Dem ministers. On the cover, the Lib Dems only get a mention in very small print.
Mr Clegg laughed off any embarrassment. “People are fighting on their local record. I don’t think people want cardboard cut-out politicians,” he said.
Does he feel the Lib Dems are being written out of the election script by the media because there are new kids like the SNP, Ukip and the Greens on the block? “We can get our message over in other ways –online, in town hall meetings, in pavement politics,” he said. “We have a wonderful opportunity to tell our story without it being mangled by the prism of our opponents.”
The Lib Dems’ polling and the leader’s own instincts tell him one thing: the party is going to “confound expectations” and do much better on May 7 than many commentators predict. “We are the Great Houdini of British politics,” he said. “We get out of tight corners and escape the knots our opponents make for us.”
If he has set a private target for the number of seat losses that would persuade him to resign as party leader, he is not saying so. He insisted it would not come to that. On his prospects in his Sheffield Hallam constituency, which Labour is targeting, Mr Clegg is “confident but not complacent.” He was there for Easter weekend and will be again on 10 April.
“I am tougher and wiser than when I first went into government,” he said. “I have had bumps and scrapes but I want to carry on doing it.”
The biggest lesson he has learnt from five gruelling years in government is that, with hindsight, the Coalition should have explained more fully in advance the reasons for unpopular early decisions like the hike in university tuition fees, whose shadow he cannot escape. “We could have explained the invidious choices and unpalatable decisions rather than done things at such a breathtaking pace,” he said.
He accused the Tories of “intellectual kleptomania” by stealing the Lib Dems’ flagship policy of raising the personal tax allowance to £10,000, which David Cameron said in 2010 was unaffordable. “The smaller party has had the big ideas in this Coalition,” he said. “The Conservatives acted like political magpies.”
Mr Clegg would form a coalition with either the Tories or Labour next month because “I am a pluralist.” But he would not join forces with Ukip or the Scottish National Party. “I am not going to put the SNP in charge of a country they want to pull to bits,” he said.
Who would he talk to first if Labour won more seats but the Tories got most votes? He insisted the chances of that are remote, saying the voters would tell us that one of the big two parties had “the wind in its sails.”
However, some Lib Dems believe Mr Clegg might struggle to persuade his battle-scarred party to go into another coalition, and that it might prefer to rebuild in the comfort zone of opposition. He insisted: “Party members are proud of what we have done in government. If push came to shove, the Lib Dems would surprise people and have the courage to do what is right for the country – with a thicker skin and perhaps a little wiser.”
Before joining the Coalition, did he ever imagine things could get this bad for his party? Mr Clegg laughed: “I am not going to pretend wisdom with hindsight. But I knew it was going to be tough.” Despite the scars, Mr Clegg is clearly ready to do it all again if the numbers permit.
Case study: Olivia Arigho Styles, 21
Olivia Arigho Styles was 21 years old when she moved back in with her family in Kent. She had moved out to attend university, but upon graduating last year and securing a job in London she soon found that she couldn’t afford the city’s soaring rent. She now commutes to her job in London from her family home in Tonbridge, where she is living with her mother and 25 year-old brother.
“For me, the decision was purely financial. A combination of low wages, high rental and travel costs make living independently in London impossible.
Most of my friends are living at home - when you're doing badly paid, or unpaid, internships the financial situation is too precarious to move out. Even those with permanent jobs sometimes cannot move out due to low wages.
Of my friends, those that have secured well paying graduate jobs are the only ones able to continue living independently post-university.
If politicians want to make things easier for people in their twenties to be able to live independently, instead of considering grants, they should look at capping rent, reducing travel costs and increasing wages. We need to tackle the cause of the problem, not transfer the burden to the state.”
The Independent has got together with May2015.com to produce a poll of polls that produces the most up-to-date data in as close to real time as is possible.
Click the buttons below to explore how the main parties' fortunes have changed:Reuse content