Playing politics Osborne? Young people have had enough.

A generational current has swept the budget away from our concerns. We’re in for a tough ride.
YouthVoice on the PoliticalBeat

The Budget: political posturing designed to reward pensioners, and hit the youngest.(Photo: The Guardian)

The Government’s driving political concern panders to the concerns of voters. As we know, the Conservatives don’t consider 16-year-olds worthy of voting, and they are more likely to attract voters over 55 or those already retired, so their budgetary policies were never going to cater to the needs of the next generation, or most long-term economic concerns.
The tax credit cuts and “living wage were announcements meant to signal that as “we have legislated for work that now pays you enough to live on, the government will not pay for you to live.” A key milestone in political symbolism for a Compassionate Conservative party that senior figures have pushed for and a consolidation Iain Duncan Smith visibly supported (his think tank has been pushing this policy agenda for the last decade).

Very pleased indeed.(Photo: The Guardian)
Yet in the practical, real world of people who are affected by government decisions, the combination of the tax credit cut and the lack of any “living wage” for under-25s demoralises young people.
Economically, since young people have the least amount of human capital for business, a higher proportion of young people work for the minimum wage than any other age group. Therefore, by a larger amount, the youth will be punitively impacted by any cut to wage top-ups than any other wage group.
Combined with the proposed harshness of the tax credits system, if wages and benefits become comparable in value due to the overall net regressive effect of tax credit cuts, this policy could make an the value of an even lower benefit cap actually attractive.
You lose more than you gain. (Photo: Faisal Islam’s Twitter page)
In addition, things will likely become even less affordable for the youth as a suggested interest rate rise could occur as a knock-on effect of the NLW’s hiking of minimum wage, which would likely increase the rate of inflation. This seems like a perfect storm to me for many young families out there who work hard to provide for their kids on close to minimum, and even more single young people who work hard just to support themselves. Included in this are the rising numbers of young Londoners who still can’t move out of their family homes because cost of living is so high. These people will struggle.
So how precisely, I ask Osborne on his budget, without anything other than parental support, are they to live?
However I do see some economic positives in such an exclusion. He asked, “What possible justification can there be for excluding under-25s from the national living wage?” His economic knowledge must be worse than mine because this provision is in fact the only green shoot I can see in the headline policy.
 The NLW exclusion may encourage a higher rate of employment for the youth due to the incentive of lower labour costs for businesses offsetting the lack of experience that normally makes employers look for someone older who would still work at the same wage. This would be very pleasing if it occurred, yet as I mentioned before, if the work still doesn’t pay enough for them to live on, young people might just not want to do it.

The larger point about the Budget, the crucial one, is that more is being taken away from those who are just starting out than those who have already achieved and had chances.

More info on the nature of generational change. (Source: The Times)
While over-75s get free TV in the form of absolving their TV licence fees, young people get more debt in the form of Student Maintenance Loans being turned into grants. While pensioners get free bus passes though the majority do not even go to work, young people’s housing benefit which they require to live is being abolished – ‘fiscally irrelevant versus the (£90bn) deficit’ says the IFS, as it will only gain maximum £40m saving.
While the policies are targeted at different aims, taken together they evidence Nick Clegg’s criticism of the Conservatives’ “cosseting the old.”
While the old might not understand the innumerable benefits their generation had, I will spell them out: ever-increasing labour productivity, free university education, guaranteed jobs out of uni for people as opposed to more jobs for computers and robots (techno-pessimism is an idea I will evaluate more so in the future) and cheap housing even in central London still available being some of a host of their structural advantages.
These things all contributed to growth rising like a phoenix post-war and steady increases in living standards for the next 50/60 years, despite numerous geopolitical crises and inflation spikes. It is now precisely a mixture of lacking economic and education policies for youth that are contributing to our increasing uncertainty.
The youth today have largely abandoned the possibility of owning their own home by 40 and now aren’t even sure if the jobs they receive will enable them to pay back their tuition fees. The youth today face a crisis of not being able to do better than their parents. What kind of country, and continent as this article by Danny Dorling suggests, other than bleak and egregiously immobile, would that be?
Less costs should be placed on the young,
not more. (Photo: Petition Buzz)
Some reasons for these trend in policy can be boiled down to one example of the shift in debate from university tuition as a benefit of society towards it being a benefit of solely the individual. We see this in Osborne’s reasoning defending the new loan, preaching that there is a “basic unfairness in asking taxpayers to fund grants for people who are likely to earn a lot more than them.” This argument is situated  in the (what I call anyway) extreme present, essentially aimed at those affected right now – working economic class taxpayers who they want to vote for them, and not Labour or UKIP.
I heard it best articulated last week on Channel 4, where a girl from a lower income family looking to go to university to get a better job, said, in my view rightly, that university education is there to increase the benefit of highly-skilled workers to society as a whole. Where wages are higher, living standards are better and crucially, more can be paid back in taxes to benefit social services, whether these consist of a lot of things in a mostly welfare state or just the police and courts in a largely free market state.
She realises that this loan is even more punitive on the poorest as in reality they are actually being made available to more debt in the form of grants than those more well-off.
So it’s all up in the air. Such a jobs situation that charts an increasingly confusing future is worsened by inept budgetary policy which disillusions as the yearn to get into work, halted by ever more policies that hurt opportunity. To people just like her, this kind of situation where there is a lot to lose may force a more secure trajectory to the negative impact of social mobility.
Therefore, what worries me deeply is that the pressure of the debt burden will have negative effects both on a macro (whole economy) and micro (personal economy) scale.
If these things all combine we could be in for a big shock to any economic growth in the next ten to twenty years if the productivity problem needed to increase wages still isn’t solved, an ageing population decreases the percentage of the workforce available to work, and the debt burden on young people continues to increase. I’d love to see Osborne craft a political budget then.
About Che Applewhaite
Che Applewhaite is the Editor-in-Chief of Whippersnapper. He is a 18-year-old student who is passionate about understanding the issues today that he thinks will affect the future, primarily changes in international relations, feminism and global warming. His musical tastes are defined by a deep appreciation of jazz, minimalism, house and rap, though by no means are limited to those genres. He can often be found in a museum or bookshop on a weekend.