NEWS
24/07/2018 07:01 BST

The Conservatives Used These Pledges To Win Over Millennials. But Where Are They Now?

Still little help for rent, travel and and pay.

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The Conservative government has pledged to solve problems facing young people. But three such policies have yet to materialise.

While Jeremy Corbyn is credited with enthusing young people about politics, the Conservatives have turned their gaze to the millennial vote too.

But, as Parliament breaks for its summer recess, three major government interventions touted as benefitting young people have so far failed to materialise.

A years-old pledge to help ‘Generation Rent’, a headline-grabbing reduction in the cost of rail travel, and a promise of much-needed clarity over tips for restaurant workers - all appear to have stalled, dragged on, or disappeared from view.

1. Letting agent fees 

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Legislation to ban letting fees has taken over a year to get to parliament, and won't be passed until next year.

A sweeping ban on “rip-off” letting agents fees was announced by the government with much fanfare in November 2016.

Since then, however, tenants have parted with close to £480m in fees, at an average of £200 a pop, according to government estimates, with no clear end in sight.

As legislation snails through parliament, campaigners have said the government should have moved quicker.

“It is such a shame that the government hasn’t been moving fast enough,” Hannah Slater, of campaign group Generation Rent, told HuffPost UK. “Renters are still being ripped off by huge fees.”

A spokesperson for Foxtons estate agents said it sees fees as an industry standard and that the firm tries to be competitive.

“We use the fees to pay for work which may take place during and before a tenancy,” they said. “This is not about making money, this is about covering the costs involved.”

Foxtons charges each tenant a maximum £250 fee but has other charges for things like late payment letters. Despite uncertainty – the law is yet to be finalised – the firm said it will devise its response with tenants in mind.

“Our stance on the new legislation is that, while it is unclear what the law will look like, we want to ensure that our customers are happy and that we mirror our competitors.”

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are determined to build a housing market for the future and this Bill is just one of many measures that we are bringing forward to make renting fairer and more transparent.

“The Bill was introduced in May. We want it become law as soon as possible to stop tenants being stung by unexpected costs.”

2. The millennial railcard

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Virgin Trains mocked the rush to gain a place on the 16-30 railcard trial earlier this year.

It was heralded as a solution to ever-increasing travel costs, but the railcard for those aged 26 to 30 has yet to depart its trial phase.

The card mirrors the benefits of the decades-old 16-25 deal, discounting off-peak fares by a third.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, said last November that the policy would help “4.5 million more young people” reduce their costs.

Yet nine months later, the government has fought off claims the policy has been derailed, denying reports a bruising Whitehall battle over costs ended in its quiet cancellation.

Just 20,000 railcards have been released as part of two trial schemes. The result of the tests is unclear.

Mike Hewitson, head of policy at the independent transport user watchdog Transport Focus, said: “We welcomed a nationwide trial of the ‘millennial’ railcard for 26-30 year-olds because it’s important to help make travelling by rail that bit more affordable for young people.

“We know the demand was very high – the 10,000 cards issued during the pilot sold out within hours. It is important that the Department for Transport sorts out a clear timetable for when the scheme will be re-opened and made fully available.”

The Department for Transport declined to comment and referred HuffPost to the Rail Delivery Group. It said in a statement: “We’re currently awaiting the results of the trial before we release any more information on the 26-30 railcard roll out.”

3. Restaurant tips

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Scandal brewed when restaurant chains were revealed to be holding back tips customers gave to serving staff, especially payments made on cards.

The then business secretary’s statement was clear. “As a ‘one nation’ government we want workers who earn a tip to be able to keep it. That’s why I, like many others, was disappointed by the tipping practices of some of our well-known chains. This has to change.”

But Sajid Javid’s words in 2016 have thus far failed to produce a solid policy governing the right of restaurant workers to take home all their tips. Two years later, no legislation has been forthcoming, despite a government report finding waiting staff and others should keep extra money given to them directly by customers by card or cash. Javid called for feedback on that report at the time, but no update has been made since.

Meanwhile big chains have taken matters into their own hands and developed so-called ‘tronc’ policies. But trade unions have criticised some of these for allowing “rogue bosses” to exploit loopholes. “Workers are still being cheated out of their tips,” Unite, which campaigns on the issue, said recently.

The issue overwhelmingly impacts young people. The majority of those working in food and beverage service are aged under 29, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Critics of any future legislation governing tips point towards the increased minimum wage as a policy which helps those working in food service.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, said: “Workers should be paid fairly for the job they do, that includes getting the tips they have worked hard for. We have seen restaurants abandoning unfair tipping practices after government consultation and media scrutiny.

“However, we’ve not ruled out taking action if restaurants don’t pay their staff fairly, including bringing in new laws if necessary.”