THE BLOG

A Two Generations Budget, Cementing the Divide Between Young and Old

09/07/2015 09:45 BST | Updated 08/07/2016 10:59 BST

What is George Osborne's problem with young people? In the last Parliament, he made them bear the brunt of the early cuts and today he's done the same. This was not a One Nation Budget, but the Two Generations Budget - cementing the divide between young and old.

The withdrawal of maintenance grants will further increase the worries of poorer students about the levels of debt involved in going to university. And his decision to exclude 18-21 year olds from housing benefit seems not to understand that some young people have a much tougher start in life than he did. Not all young people have the option of living with parents. It will leave many young people even further away from getting a secure place to live.

But the biggest slap in the face for young people in this Budget is what George Osborne has done on pay. His flagship proposal of a 'National Living Wage' only kicks in at 25, but his cuts to tax credits affect people of all ages. He was not honest about this before the election and has no mandate for his plans. There is a real risk this will cement a two-tier workforce between young and old as he brings down the deficit on the backs of young people.

Young parents could be the heaviest losers of all, with no Living Wage protection but losing their tax credits. It will just increase their sense of despair and the feeling that the odds are stacked against them.

Osborne seems not to understand or care that getting on in life is so much harder than it was for our generation in the 1980s and 1990s. Young people will be leaving university saddled with even more debt and many will be unable to earn a decent wage until their late 20s. He talks about One Nation, but this is a Chancellor that has repeatedly prioritised older voters against the younger. It risks alienating a generation from politics.

If I were Prime Minister now, this is what my Budget would have done for young people. I would have ended age discrimination in pay, thereby applying the living wage to everyone in work. I would have extended the student finance system to young people who want a technical apprenticeship. I would have introduced a 'Rent to Own' policy as a clear route for young people out of the rental trap and onto the housing ladder, giving councils the power to build the homes we need. That is a Labour way to get the housing benefit bill down, helping to reduce the deficit for the long-term.

The way this Budget divides young and old is everything that's wrong with Westminster politics. Life has got much harder for young people and there seems to be no recognition of that or any attempt to correct it. I'm standing to lead Labour and take my party out of that bubble.

Under my leadership, Labour will help everyone get on in life and not leave the younger generation behind.

Andy Burnham is the shadow health secretary and the Labour MP for Leigh

This post first appeared on Andy Burnham's official Facebook page, and can be read here