This is what young people have to say about David Cameron's plan to cut housing benefits for under 21 year olds

Video: Sunderland's youth say the cut would leave them sleeping rough

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The Independent Online

With David Cameron vowing to remove housing benefit from 18 to 21 year olds on Jobseekers' Allowance if the Conservatives win May's general election, vulnerable young people have responded with disbelief at the Prime Minister's proposal.

Centrepoint, a charity that supports homeless young people, has argued that "for the most vulnerable young people in our society, housing benefit is a lifeline, not a lifestyle choice", and have spoken to many about how the cut would affect their lives.

Ben Wardlaw, the chair of Centrepoint Parliament, said: "Cuts to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds could be devastating if they go ahead without thinking about how they will really affect the young people who rely on it. We don't want to be on benefits but until we find work, housing benefit is a lifeline that gives us the base we need to become independent."

Here, several 18 to 21 year olds explain what the benefit means to them and how its abolishment would be devastating.

Liam, 17

"Housing benefit means that I can have a place to stay, a roof over my head, get myself some food and keep me up on rent and things. I would have to go back on the streets or ask my friends to see if I could sofa surf or something daft like that."

Cia, 19

"Housing benefit is everything. It means somewhere to live, a roof over my head. Your housing benefit means the rent’s sorted, before you even have to worry about gas, water and food. I don’t even know what would happen without it; I’d have nowhere to go. I’d just be homeless again. But I don’t think I should live like that. It doesn’t seem fair.

"I used to think maybe David Cameron could make a difference. He missed the Leader’s Live debate, he doesn’t want to talk to young people. But he’s taking everything away from us. Everything [the government] does has made it harder for me. "

Natasha, 19

"What would I say to Cameron? I’d say, 'Try living in my shoes because it's absolutely ridiculous." He can just stand there saying cut this, this and this. He doesn't realise, it’s like dropping a penny in the ocean, it has a ripple effect."

Emmanuella, 19

"It’s not an option for me to go back home. The housing benefit is the only thing that is keeping me from sofa surfing or sleeping rough. I use housing benefit to live with. It means I can continue with college. Without it I’d have to find work and stop college; I’d have basically wasted a whole two years. It’s a terrible idea [to cut the benefit], he’s not even found a solution, he’s just deciding to cut it. It’s like he doesn’t know how many people this will affect this."