No budget for the young

The latest blog from Martin Allen at Education, Economy and Society argues that the Tories have learnt nothing and wonders if Labour will put young people’s concerns at the forefront of its policies.


With young voters flocking to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in the last General Election you’d think the Tories would have wanted to use this week’s budget as an opportunity to win back some lost ground.

But, as one disaster follows another, May and Hammond are just as desperate to shore up their existing support and so, unless you are London based, in a ‘career’ job and with parents able to stump up a large slice of a deposit (by itself, the change does nothing to improve a person’s ability to save) for a bargain £300 000 first-time buy, there’s nothing that can remotely help you refill that fridge, never mind pay off the overdraft.

The £350 increase in the level you start paying income tax – worth about £70 a year, will certainly exempt a fair few from tax altogether, yet if full-time students in part-time jobs are excluded, only half of 18-24-year olds are in the labour market. By comparison, there’s been a £1350 increase in the 40% income tax ceiling (it’s now £46,350). There’s no further moves on student tuition fees (May has previously announced an increase in the repayment threshold and Parliament voted down new fee increases) and no direct reference to the need to rescue apprenticeships.

While recent developments have shown that increasing spending on education and training won’t necessarily lead to better employment outcomes; some schools will welcome the increased financial incentives for increasing the number of students taking Maths beyond GCSE. But even here, the amount is modest (£600 a student) and many employer representatives now argue that it would be better to have a broader post-16 curriculum rather than the current specialist one.

Young people have been affected the most from the fall in living standards since the economic downturn and approaching a third are estimated to be living in poverty, Labour will want to put their interests at the top of its agenda.


One comment

  1. The general tenor and indications of what your saying are realistic comment and particularly in relation to training and jobs. The poverty quote I think needs refining as like the use of charities for all and everything so has including cars, televisions and relative poverty as a definition devalued poverty and allowed us to avoid tackling the needs of the really poor.
    Naturally as Youth Workers we want to assist and empower. I spoke to a youth club member whose only experience of washing up was using a dishwasher as part of a discussion about growing up and having a family who continued to assert that if you did not have a dishwasher you would use disposable plates and throw them away every day. Other members thankfully had other ideas.
    This sits at the heart of both family economics and environmental concerns. Next week we will make a real rice pudding not a tinned one…………..and so we develop people whose glass is half full not half empty.
    The inequalities of wealth in society are huge but we don’t have to aspire to anything but happy and safe families. The rest is rather shallow.

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