BY Daniel Hunter

Commenting on reports today clarifying the Prime Minister's pledge to ban benefits for under-25s, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said:

'Having hinted yesterday that a future Conservative government would ban any young person from claiming any social security unless they were in work, education or training, it's a relief to hear that the party is now in full retreat over its 'earn or learn' pledge.

'Banning under-25s from claiming benefits, irrespective of whether there are jobs and training places available locally, would have impoverished hundreds of thousands of young people, including many with young children.

'Of course unemployed people need to take action to look for work, but benefit sanctions for those who don't play by the rules are nothing new - they have been in place for over a century.

'Young people's futures are still far from safe as the Prime Minister still wants to axe housing benefit for under-25s - a pledge he originally made last June.

'If the government really wants to tackle the UK's youth jobs crisis - which has got worse since the coalition was formed - it should ditch its failing Youth Contract and re-introduce a job guarantee for young people who have been out of work for more than six months.'

Youth unemployment is currently 960,000, an increase of 39,000 since June-August 2010.