Back in June, I urged young voters to continue to put pressure on May and co on the back of a momentous turn out from young voters; there had been an inter-generational power balance shift...
Fast-forward six months, and here we are, digesting what many would identify as a budget comprised of pro-young economic policies. To my mind, however, young people will see the plans for what they are, a step in the right direction, but fundamentally- window dressing.
While older generations may laud the implementation of an extended mid-20s railcard, to the young people fighting to make their way in the U.K., it's pretty inconsequential. Subsidised travel from a house they will never own, to a job that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts will pay the same in 2022 as it did in 2008. Oh, and by the way, the railcard only applies to off-peak travel- so no help with the rush hour commute.
Plans were also announced to inject £42 million across the course of three years to “improve the quality of teaching.” Specifically, Maths, with a £600 per head incentive to get students to choose A-level Maths. However, yet again, this is only a shuffle in the right direction. Many campaigners have in fact highlighted the requirement of £2 billion a year extra funding to restore real terms per pupil funding to 2015-16 levels.
This is the level of investment that is indeed required to make a dent in an antiquated education system. An education system that has failed so many of its previous cohort of now young voters, who are currently feeling the effects of poor preparation for the working world. That being said, I feel pleased that no matter how tentative a step, the government is now taking a proactive approach.
As an employer myself, I advocate the Maths policy push. Especially within the new tech industries that will continue to drive our productivity as a society, greater capabilities in maths alongside creative thinking will prove invaluable.
The jewel in the crown of Hammond's budget came in the form of abandoning stamp duty altogether for first-time buyer purchases up to £300,000 and on the first £300,000 of the purchase price of properties worth up to £500,000. Seems like a generous deal for "generation rent."
However, closer inspection suggests a reason for tempered enthusiasm, as housing market analytics show a mere 30% of first-time buyers in London can find homes below even £300,000. The chancellor further adding that first-timers who buy homes up to £500,000 can carry the zero rating to £300,000, equating to an average saving of just above £5000. Again, another policy that is very admirable, and a move in the right direction; I just fear in practice may not feel tangible to its target demographic.
All in all, and particularly for young voters, this was a relatively positive budget, at worst - window dressing concessions that felt slightly against the will of a government understandably hamstrung by the looming Brexit divorce bill.
It's most certainly not all doom and gloom. As I have written about previously, young people have made their voices heard since the snap election in June. We have finally been invited to the party. However, just this time around, we leave with a party bag perhaps not quite as substantial as it could have been. A travel card, 5k in housing savings, and more maths.