We have spent less than 100 days under a Tory-majority government, and already they've done the expected. Well, for me it was the expected. Allow me to elaborate further before scourging me with thumbs-down's and heckling.
I completely accept that we need a stronger economy that provides people with sustainable meaningful jobs. Both small and big businesses need the support and assistance to grow and flourish. We desperately need a welfare system that is efficient yet safeguards the vulnerable. I also accept there are challenging cuts and tough decisions to make and we need to cut the deficit and so on and so forth.
However, what I cannot accept is the fact that the most disadvantaged are facing the brunt of government policies. One thing I am certain of is that we definitely are not all "in this together". Those of us who fall into the categories of disabled, black and ethnic minority backgrounds, lower income households or living in poverty (under the old definition) are being, for lack of a better word, shafted.
Iain Duncan-Smith's highly implausible stunt last week about changing the definition of poverty was travesty enough. Worse still was George Osborne's budget rhetoric. I will admit the budget has some good announcements including the introduction of a national living wage, 30-hours of free childcare for three and four year olds, a £5billion clampdown on tax avoidance to increase government revenue and 3million new apprenticeships.
Yet, in all honesty I knew long before these announcements that the young and disadvantaged were not going to benefit. Why? Because they rarely do. They gave us something with one hand and took with the other; offering more apprenticeships whist scrapping housing benefits for young people under 21. I have known and worked with young homeless people who depend solely on this benefit, to deprive them of it is grossly irresponsible. As Campbell Robb (chief executive, Shelter) said so astutely, this policy is: "nothing short of catastrophic, and will lead to a rise in homelessness". It is frankly shocking to me that the under-25's will not receive the national living wage their older counterparts who work the same jobs and hours will.
My greatest bugbear in this seemingly endless list of disappointments is the government's plan to scrap maintenance grants, which largely assist those from lower and middle-income backgrounds. From the academic year 2016-2017, those who once received grants will be instead offered loans. Allow me to be sarcastic for a moment and shout 'Hooray! More debts for us young people who want to receive a university education! Please Mr Osborne, can we have some more debt for our generation? There are even plans to increase tuition fees! As if the current fees are not financially challenging enough already.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to calculate that if university fees are raised and students cannot receive maintenance grants, students from lower/middle-income families will be deterred from attending university. Regardless of the so-called sweetener of paying loans back once wages are over £21,000, this is yet another example of the government's failure to tackle inequality.
Hopes and ambitions were shot down for the young and disadvantaged (and, the less-advantaged) this week. Yet it was an auspicious one for the wealthy sector of the U.K who were gifted with tax scrapping for homes worth up to £1 million.
Given everything that has happened already under this government. Do you still feel like we are all in this together?Suggest a correction