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PM straying into "difficult territory"

David Cameron is speaking in Dartford today Photo: Carl Court/PA Wire

In a major speech in Kent on a core Tory issue, the Prime Minister is to suggest stripping housing benefit from the under-25s and forcing them to live with their parents. He will also float time-limited unemployment benefit, and hint at restricting handouts for those who have large numbers of children.

Mr Cameron will tell an audience in Dartford:

"We have, in some ways, created a welfare gap in this country - between those living long-term in the welfare system and those outside it. Those within it grow up with a series of expectations - you can have a home of your own, the state will support you whatever decisions you make, you will always be able to take out no matter what you put in.

"This has sent out some incredibly damaging signals. That it pays not to work. That you are owed something for nothing. It gave us millions of working-age people sitting at home on benefits even before the recession hit. It created a culture of entitlement. And it has led to huge resentment amongst those who pay into the system, because they feel that what they're having to work hard for, others are getting without having to put in the effort."

Mr Cameron will say it is time to ask "searching questions about working-age welfare - what it is actually for; who should receive it; what the limits of state provision should be; and what kind of contribution we should expect from those receiving benefits".

Mr Cameron will indicate that he wants to adjust the benefits system so it does not encourage people to have large numbers of children. The premier will admit that he is straying into "difficult territory".

_"But at a time when so many people are struggling, isn't it right that we ask whether those in the welfare system are faced with the same kinds of decisions that working people have to wrestle with when they have a child?" _he will add.

But he will risk fuelling friction with the Liberal Democrats by signalling that the Tories want a much more radical programme than has currently been agreed. The Lib Dems have insisted they are "very relaxed" about the speech, stressing that both party leaders will need to address comments at their political base from time to time. But sources also made clear that the junior coalition partner did not support much of what Mr Cameron was proposing.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling told ITV Daybreak: "You have to start with some basic principles. What we have been saying is we have to have a welfare state which is not a place in which you live but which is a ladder up which you climb. All too often over the course of the last decades as our current welfare state has built up, it has become a place in which people live."

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