THE BLOG

The Difficulties Young People Face as a Result of Osborne's Cuts

17/03/2016 15:14 GMT | Updated 18/03/2017 09:12 GMT

The first Budget of 2016 was announced in parliament yesterday amidst the uproar that one can expect every time George Osborne makes a public appearance. - Although it doesn't cease when he's hidden behind the big shiny door of number 11 either.

And people are right to be upset. George Osborne has revealed he wants to make £3.5 billion of further cuts.

Making severe cuts to those who are the most in need, the Chancellor announced a tax on sugary drinks, and devastating cuts to disability benefits - thousands will lose out on the benefit altogether.

Labour calculates 200,000 disabled people will lose £3000 a year.

Osborne has also announced a tax cut for the countries' highest earners and has frozen beer and cider duty, - something which will please his backbenchers.

Plans were also revealed to turn every school in the country into an academy. When it comes to education, the Tories have carved a notorious name for themselves.

Jo Johnson, the Universities minister, previously announced that the government wouldn't rule out prosecuting students who cannot pay back their loans. This came soon after the maintenance grant, given to students whose families are on lower incomes, was cut completely. You would think, from the offhand manner in which the government is extemporaneously throwing key policies on to the already raging fire; that young, affluent students are doing just fine without them.

Of course, this is wrong. A recent poll published in the Guardian, showed that almost a third of 18-24 year olds say they are too scared to look at their bank balance. They wrote "It is feared money worries are deterring many from taking up the opportunity of higher education."

In England and Wales, Universities can charge students up to £9,000 a year just to attend. Students are able to take out loans with the Student Loans Company to pay these fees and can take out further loans in order to pay for rent and food.

As a result, the government is pushing through students with no drive for success. Once a former student's salary stumbles over £21,000 they have to start repaying their debt. This is alongside rising living prices, and a distinct lack of jobs. Thus begins a vicious circle of debt and borrowing that repeats itself from the moment a prosperous young student enters university all the way through to graduating, finding a job, and buying a house.

The average age for getting on the housing ladder in London is 40 years old. So the only people that can realistically afford to enter higher education are those from well-off backgrounds. Those studying in London have to pay for the most expensive city transport system in the world. Someone on the London Living Wage would have to work for around 25 hours just to afford a monthly pass for the Tube.

Another by-product is an epidemic of youth disassociation with politics. And that's fair enough. After no longer being entitled to the Education Maintenance Allowance while at Sixth Form or College, and then being on the receiving end of even further drastic cuts to higher education, who would have any faith in the future of a nation; when the nation has no faith in its future?

From before young people in England even decide to head to university, there is a distinct lack of incentive to pursue higher education. The scrapping of EMA has led to young people avoiding sixth form or college completely, with no other choice but to head for apprenticeships or go straight into work.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies reported: "EMA significantly increased participation rates in post-16 education among young adults who were eligible to receive it. In particular, it increased the proportion of eligible 16-year-olds staying in education from 65% to 69%, and increased the proportion of eligible 17-year-olds in education from 54% to 61%."

At last years' General Election, only 43% of 18-24 year olds turned up to vote. And if the vote just counted those aged 18-24, we would currently have government from the other side of the political spectrum. 43% of young people that voted last year voted Labour, and 27% voted Conservative. These figures are essentially reversed for those aged 65+.

As part of a student campaign group, Borrow the Future, I took to London yesterday to attempt to spread awareness of the financial difficulties students face both during and after university. We set up a huge, interactive form of student monopoly with the idea of accruing more and more debt as the game goes on. We asked members of the public to take part, and they were amazed as to how magnificently it all added up.

What we wanted to reveal was the viscous circle which follows a graduate into adult life. Going around the 'board' in some cases acquiring £51,000 of debt shocked many participants. Two Dutch students even suggested we all go home to Amsterdam with them. We can ride as many trains for free as we'd like, they said.

The Morning Star described our action as "interactive" and took part in the game of debt.

"STUDENT activists set out a life-sized board game "with a student twist" in Westminster yesterday to highlight the financial strain the Tories have placed graduates under.

"The Star was invited to play and at the end of the game was left with a whopping £51,000 bill and low-paid job"

However student debt is part of a much larger, much more dangerous problem. It spreads infectiously past our shores and into the rest of the world.

At the weekend, the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, said that the job market is rigged against younger workers. He said "young people are stuck with lower-paid, temporary contracts and get fired first in crisis times. That also means that employers are reluctant to invest in young people, so the incomes of this generation stay lower over their lifetime."

Young people are being cut off by government in all aspects of society all across the world. We have a voice, but we are constantly being told not to use it. Step up, look sharp. You don't become Chancellor by promising to help out all your mates.

Oh wait.