The axe has been wielded, the cuts have been announced and George Osborne has predictably chosen to target vulnerable young people.
The removal of automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21s is a travesty for young people wishing to leave an abusive home. The abolition of the student maintenance grant for young people from the poorest backgrounds (and its transition into a maintenance loan) will hit estranged students the hardest. It's easy to forget that the poorest students are the students who are walking away from an abusive family network, who do not have the financial backing of their family during their studies.
These cuts make for a pretty saving in public spending. But what message is this giving unfortunate young people who need housing benefit in order to leave a violent home? It is a very clear one: stay at home. What message is this giving those brave and determined abuse survivors who are studying without the emotional or financial support from a family network? Again it's clear: don't expect the state to make it happen.
It's unclear how vulnerable groups will be treated in the guidelines springing from these new policies. The assessment of these vulnerable young people will define whether the nation will experience surges in youth homelessness. It is yet to be seen if the government will exclude vulnerable groups from heavy student loans for living costs.
But for me the message seems incongruous. I pay tax every month to help those who are not able to earn, and to level the playing field. But I'm actually paying for the government to discriminate against those who need the most help. This is Osborne's mantra: don't rely on state help, don't be vulnerable, don't complain, don't leave. And in removing the options to leave, or to progress higher in society, we are removing the human rights of young people who come from a dysfunctional family. As we all should have the right to leave a violent household.
It's an aggressive standpoint and furthermore is hard to justify economically. The Chartered Institute Of Housing have outlined that the removal of housing benefit for the young will have no bearing on growth. Furthermore, Osborne is ignoring the fact that decisions like these will not be cost free. The state will pay further down the line: in mental health bills, homelessness and crime.
But these issues won't be seen where George lives, or by many of his richest counterparts who are set to benefit from this budget. And that is the essence of his message: separation of the fortunate from the unfortunate, the richest from the poorest.Suggest a correction