THE BLOG

Warm Words About 'the Next Generation' Do Nothing to Repair Damage This Government Has Done to Young People's Life Chances

17/03/2016 09:42 GMT | Updated 18/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Yesterday I watched from the House of Commons as George Osborne claimed to deliver a budget "for the next generation".

Having spoken over the last six months to young people from across the country, from every conceivable background, I could barely believe my ears. The Tories have completely let down the next generation, from the moment they got into office in 2010.

Under this Government, young people have been hit like never before.

We have seen home ownership for people in their twenties fall to the lowest since records began. The proportion of young people in zero hours contracts is three times higher than for older adults - with zero hours contracts up 15%. And 400,000 more young people live in poverty than a decade ago.

Will a "lifetime ISA" help to get young people on the housing ladder, or let them feel that little bit more secure about the future? Only if they have a spare £4,000 hanging around to invest - and far too many of the young people I meet can't even find the funds to make ends meet week to week.

What is worse, the Tories have pulled up all the ladders that the last Labour Government put in place to help young people get on. From Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to allow people to stay on at school or college, or maintenance grants to allow young people from lower-income backgrounds to get to university - the support nets are being removed at a rate of knots.

Having a longer school day or changing the local school into an academy could seem like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic for young people who can't afford to stay on in education because of soaring living costs and cuts to their EMA.

And even if they do work hard to get the skills and qualifications they need, young people today may complete their education only to find that the job they have dreamed of just isn't open to them. 630,000 young people are unemployed in this country, and 853,000 are NEET. It is no way to start out in life, and there was very little of note in this budget to help those young people get the headstart they need to make their way in the world.

Eighteen times Mr Osborne claimed to be speaking up for "the next generation". But I cannot count the number of times I have heard from young people about the harmful effects they are suffering from this Government's policies.

Just saying how much you care about "putting the next generation first" doesn't make it any easier for them to get on in life, when you have taken away all their ladders.

Perhaps George was talking about the next generation of Tory party leaders, rather than those people who count on the Government to give them a fair shot at life.

Make sure you let George Osborne know what you think of his plans by voting on 5 May.

Make sure you are on the register at gov.uk/register-to-vote - don't miss the deadline of 18 April.

Gloria De Piero is the shadow minister for voter registration and young people, and the Labour MP for Ashfield