Why Government doesn’t want our youth to grow up

9 May 2017

Julia Hayes (Employment Manager, Create Jobs) presents her take on why all young Londoners should get out and vote at the next general election

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Why would the government want to hamper young adult’s development? There has been a series of measures that have been put in place over the last few years which have suppressed the freedoms, opportunities and support open to young adults. Benefits cut, housing shortages, low pay tuition fees. Is this a malicious intent to keep young adults in a powerless state of prepubescence just for the hell of it? Probably not, rather it’s the easiest way save a few pounds off the back of young adults’, many of whom will let them get away with it by not voting.

43% of 18-24 year olds voted in 2015 compared with 77% of over 55 year olds. We have an election coming up. 22 May is the deadline to register to vote. But does voting make a difference?

Old people vote. This is known by politicians as an undeniable truth. Pensioners have a triple lock on their benefits. This means successive government have committed to not cutting any pensioner benefits. Why are they so privileged when every other aspect of public spending has been cut?

Because old people vote.

Armando Iannuci, the genius comedy writer behind The Thick of It and Veep has been entreating young people to vote. He quotes a politician who, when describing election campaigns, observed that on last day of an election electioneers trying to decide whether to canvas the old people’s home or the student halls of residence, they would always choose the old people’s home.

Why? Because they vote.

This is also reflected in how laws and funding cuts have been focused. The government has repeatedly squeezed benefits and programmes for young people because there will be little or no effect on the result of the election.

It’s a simple transaction – old people vote, hence their benefits and programmes are protected. Young people don’t vote and so…..

  1. Young people’s housing benefit removed for those under 21
  2. Minimum wage raised – but not if you’re under 25
  3. Tuition fees – the government just let universities raise fees again
  4. EMA – educational maintenance allowance cut. Remember this, it was a weekly stipend to help 16-18 year olds continue study and ease the costs of attending college.
  5. The housing crisis remains a low priority for a government busy with detangling the country from Europe. But this disproportionately affects young adults and results in many more young people living at home for longer. This has a huge impact on personal development. When do you learn for yourself about managing personal finances, mature relationships, and good food or just going out and partying with no consequences?
  6. And the biggy - Brexit. The vast majority of voters in the election who chose to vote to leave were over 49. One immediate loss will be the end to the chance to study in the EU for free - incredible creative courses in places like Amsterdam and Berlin that cost nothing currently will no longer be possible for our ambitious young adults. Now trapped in the UK higher education system where fees and debt will rise and rise.

As the government now considers bringing in Barista Visas to retain jobs for Europeans in nationwide sandwich chains, how about bringing those skills and opportunities back to young adults? Saturday jobs for British teenagers are massively in decline. But these jobs are a great place for teenagers to grow with a fun, active paid job whilst studying. This would mean teenagers would be contributing to their society, paying taxes and easing the employment cliff edge that currently affects young adults graduating with nothing on their CV but hopes and dreams.

All of these policies help to hold young adults in a permanent state of arrested development. The message this sends out, loud and clear, is you are not a functioning, legitimate adult until you hit about 25.

We need to shout back loudly. Under 25s have a stake in their own future and have a voice. Stop treating them like kids and hand them their rights.

The answer is simple - young adults need to vote:

Register to vote by 22 May. And vote on 08 June!

Picture credit: Andy Hughes