The London Economic

Why “nothing ever changes” for young Brits

Not to sound ungrateful, but inheriting a country that is awash with unaffordable housing, mega inflated education fees, toxic air and a juicy divorce case with its biggest trading partner is a pretty shoddy settlement as far as young Brits are concerned.

MPs last week warned that young Brits will be priced out of the housing market for years because of a lack of urgency from “unambitious” ministers. The powerful cross-party Committee panned the Department of Communities in a scathing report for failing to address the country’s housing shortage and tackle “fundamental flaws” in the market.

On the education front there has been a collapse in part-time student numbers, falling by a whopping 152,000 people in five years, principally because of fear of debt.

Hardly surprising. By 2020 university debt will be approaching £50,000 as universities index fees to inflation. A ComRes opinion survey commissioned by the Sutton Trust reports that 78 per cent of young people were concerned as potential students about the cost of living, 68 per cent by high tuition fees and 58 per cent by having to repay student loans.

At least they have the prospect of entering a strong, global economy when they finish their education, right?

Of all generations that will make it to the polls this June it is young Brits who have the most to lose, yet they have become so disillusioned by the political outlook, so ostracised that few of them will bother to vote.

New research has revealed that as few as one in seven young people could vote in the upcoming General Election.

Continuing patterns seen at previous elections, just 14 per cent of young people aged 18-24 say they will definitely vote in the upcoming UK General Election, and 57 per cent of this age group say they will probably or definitely not vote.

This is in stark contrast to older generations with 79 per cent of over 65s saying they will definitely vote, alongside 50 per cent of 55-64s and 48 per cent of 45-54s.

If ever there is a call to action for young Brits it should be this.

As Labourist notes, in 2010 when the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Tories, there was a hope that it would not be as bad as we were all dreading. The Lib Dems had a strong student support base due to promises of freezing tuition fees and Nick Clegg seemed like he would be able to hold the Tories to account. “How naive we all were.

“After just one year the promises were in tatters and we faced the tripling of tuition fees, educational maintenance allowance was slashed and the Building Schools for the Future scheme abandoned (a scheme which aimed to restore some of the UK’s poorest educational institutions, including my own).

“In 2016 the Tories then delivered another blow by cutting maintenance grants – the lifeline to many of our country’s poorest students. I even felt guilty that I was in the final year that would receive these full grants, knowing the next set of students from low income backgrounds like mine would not get the same help.”

Naive indeed.

Politicians may claim to act on behalf of the population, but in fact they act on behalf of the electorate – and they can barely do that. So if young people really want to see change, they need to start voting. Simple as.

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