POLITICS

Young People's Wages Fell 10% Under The Tories, Says Labour

22/08/2014 10:59 BST | Updated 22/08/2014 11:59 BST
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MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: British Prime Minister David Cameron and British Chancellor George Osborne (R) tour building works at Manchester's Victoria Station which is being upgraded on June 23, 2014 in Manchester, England. Chancellor George Osborne earlier spoke of a proposed HS3 high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds that would help build a 'northern global powerhouse' linking cities in the North of England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

Young Britons have been hit by a real-terms drop in weekly wages of around 10% under the coalition, analysis released by Labour shows.

Earnings for 18 to 21-year-olds have dropped by 10.3% since 2010, while 22 to 29-year-olds saw their weekly income fall by 9.4%, according to research by the House of Commons library.

Chris Leslie, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, warned that young workers are bearing an increasingly heavy burden as a result of coalition measures and neglecting them would put Britain's future prosperity in peril.

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A Labour government would set up a panel to assess the impact of its policies on the under-35s, often dubbed "generation rent" because they struggle to get on the housing ladder, he will say in a speech in London.

"For those developing their careers, for the so-called generation rent at the start of their working lives, currently there is an increasingly heavy burden and a distinct lack of coordination in government," he will say.

"After all, this is the generation upon whose shoulders the future prosperity of our country depends. There are 15 million younger people under the age of 35 in this country and in nine months they face a choice about how the economy and government will reflect their ambitions and aspirations.

"Growth doesn't just come from business investment or infrastructure. It comes from the talents and productivity of people.

In the latest speech as part of Labour's summer campaign blitz, Leslie will set out plans to create a UK advisory forum to improve the way policies affect the younger generation and pledge to make Britain the "best place in the world" to start a career and a family.

He will say: "The next Labour government should establish a UK advisory forum on the under-35s to assess the impact of policy on generation rent and improve coordination and accountability.

"It is time we acknowledged the squeeze on those in their 20s and 30s, incorporated these questions into our analysis of economic policy and ensured these voices are properly heard in government."

Treasury Exchequer Secretary Priti Patel said in response: "Labour have no right to talk about young people's living standards. In government they wrecked the economy.

"They left young people poorer, with huge government debts to repay, and an uncertain future ahead of them. And they now want to do it all again by raising taxes on jobs.

"When we came to office we made realistic assessments about what had to be done, and took the difficult decisions needed to get the deficit down and the economy improving.

"These are now paying off. There are 1.8 million more people in work, the economy is growing, and the deficit is down by over a third, meaning young people now have a more secure future ahead of them.

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Meanwhile, a new study says that fewer firms are freezing the pay of their workers, although median increases have remained at 2% in recent months.

Settlements in the quarter to July were unchanged from the three months to April, 0.5% below the latest RPI inflation figure of 2.5%, said pay specialists XpertHR.

Its research among almost 100 deals found that less than one in 10 resulted in a pay freeze, while one in four were worth at least 2.8%.

Sheila Attwood, of XpertHR, said: "It is encouraging to see some higher pay awards being made, and few employers making pay freezes. As attention starts to turn to the new year wage round, we are hopeful that we will see an upturn in settlement levels during 2015."