The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people

Rory Weal writes about the need for a job creation programme, the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance and the protection of youth services.

By Rory Weal

This weekend dozens of young people completed a 400-mile journey from Jarrow to London. They were then joined by hundreds more as they handed in a petition to number 10, pleading for a job creation programme, the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance and youth services to be protected.

Put simply, this march told the story of a generation of young people crying out for social justice. Young people are angry, they know they’re getting a tough time – but they know that times are only set to get tougher.

A crisis is set to hit Britain, a crisis of Britain’s youth. We are said to be the future, but a perfect storm is brewing, and is set to devastate the livelihoods of young people.

Tuition fees rising and the scrapping of EMA have hit the headlines, but beyond these two dangerous measures lies an untold story of how today’s young people are being hit. This crisis has been brewing since the economic downturn, and has accelerated dangerously since May last year.

A key ingredient in this cocktail is youth unemployment. On Saturday report identifying the ten blackspots for youth disengagement – cities where between one in five and one in four young people are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

The report paints a bleak picture of a generation left behind, but equally significantly, it tells the story of a divided nation. The report identified the three areas in which youth disengagement is most prevalent as Grimsby, Doncaster and Wigan. All three regions have a ‘NEET rate’ of 25%.

In fact, bar Swansea, every one of the top ten areas in which youth disengagement is most serious are in the north; by contrast, the areas with the lowest rates of youth disengagement are nearly all in the south.

David Cameron made it his mission in opposition to decontaminate the Tory brand, and paint himself as a one nation Tory – yet these figures demonstrate the UK is plunging into the dark and divisive days last seen in the 1980s. Access to education will also be seriously limited, with rail fares set to soar by 8% at the same time as cuts in local authority budgets have resulted in one in five supported bus services being cut.

Decreased access will further increase the NEET levels as more young people are left unable to participate in further education.

As the Work Foundation report says:

“Public sector cuts mean youth services and 16-19 education face reductions of around 20%… Unless urgent action is taken, the levels of young people who are NEET is likely to increase further still.”

Youth Centre closures provide the second element in this crisis. With councils hacking back at youth centres as well as youth services, young people are seeing the institutions they hold dear topple around them. Providing support in finding work and gaining new skills, youth centres offer a great deal to Britain’s young people, but are falling victim to drastic cuts in local authority budgets.

The third ingredient in this cocktail is housing. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has released estimates (pdf) that England will face a “growing housing crisis” with a shortfall of 750,000 homes by 2025 at the same time as coalition cuts funding for social housing by 60%. It is today’s young people who will suffer from this housing shortage.

It is these crippling attacks on young people’s livelihoods that are creating the anger we are seeing among Britain’s youth. Unemployment, limited access to education and a housing shorfall are providing the foundation of this crisis. The Jarrow March 2011 epitomises this sense of burning injustice young people are feeling.

But with rafts of measures that are hammering the young and vulnerable, matters look set to get worse; a generation is being left behind, and if action is not taken then we will be paying the price for years to come.

See also:

The coalition is failing to tackle youth unemploymentRuwan Subasinghe, October 26th 2011

Unemployment hits 17-year high – record number of young people out of workShamik Das, October 12th 2011

Fees, cuts… Is this what Cameron means by “giving young people back their future”?Shamik Das, September 14th 2011

Budget 2011: Osborne’s contempt for the nation’s youthJames Mills, March 27th 2011

Scrapping EMA will force many 16-19 year olds to leave schoolJames Mills, October 22nd 2010

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24 Responses to “The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people”

  1. Jane Samuels

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: http://t.co/mc81SicA by @RoryWeal #JarrowMarch

  2. Noel Igoe

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: http://t.co/mc81SicA by @RoryWeal #JarrowMarch

  3. Gill Goodswen

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: http://t.co/mc81SicA by @RoryWeal #JarrowMarch

  4. Steph Taylor

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: http://t.co/mc81SicA by @RoryWeal #JarrowMarch

  5. Political Planet

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: Rory Weal writes about the need for a job creation progra… http://t.co/5tCsg9x5

  6. Bob Walker

    I’m pretty sure the loss of the EMA is a problem that only applies to England, rather than being pan-Divided Kingdom, so the word ‘Britain’s’ is misleading. You’d do yourselves, and your readers, a big fvour if you reported these things accurately. Of course, if other countries have also lost the EMA, I’ll acknowledge my mistake.

  7. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people http://t.co/YR4wEDAe

  8. The Cotswold Chef

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people http://t.co/1jLTEXic

  9. SiobhanONeill

    A new generation of Jarrow marchers. > RT @thecotswoldchef The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people. http://t.co/NGKrLM8u

  10. World Crisis

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain's young people http://t.co/UaLigjAn

  11. Anti-Cuts Alliance

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: http://t.co/mc81SicA by @RoryWeal #JarrowMarch

  12. RARA Productions

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: http://t.co/mc81SicA by @RoryWeal #JarrowMarch

  13. RaRa Productions

    It is great that you are highlighting the struggle that young people are facing today.

    The guy above clearly works for a conservative organisation etc, as the whole article itself was very well written an perfectly valid. you can not dismiss this problem based on one tiny detail.

    Well done guys keep up the hard work, we too are a small organisation documenting the struggles young people are facing.

    RaRa Productions

  14. Rory Weal

    My article today for @leftfootfwd on the devestating crisis facing Britain's young people http://t.co/6FmSuIp7

  15. Anthony Parker

    My article today for @leftfootfwd on the devestating crisis facing Britain's young people http://t.co/6FmSuIp7

  16. Leon Ward

    My article today for @leftfootfwd on the devestating crisis facing Britain's young people http://t.co/6FmSuIp7

  17. Cookie Monster

    The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people: http://t.co/mc81SicA by @RoryWeal #JarrowMarch

  18. nonny mouse

    >>pleading for a job creation programme, the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance and youth services to be protected.

    Labour were the ones who oversaw the increase of youth unemployment from 10% to 20%.

    EMA is a relatively new thing. My generation managed perfectly OK without it, but there again we managed perfectly OK without Blackberry’s and XBox 360’s. EMA is not a ‘must have’ it is a luxury that the nation cannot afford. EMA is not being abolished, it is being targetted at those who need it. Why do Labour hand out cash to the less affluent instead of helping the real poor? Are you a progressive party that helps the poor or a populist party that hands out money to everybody?

    >>are falling victim to drastic cuts in local authority budgets

    How many of thse local authorities are Labour run yet they still have money to fund union pilgrims and salaries over 100K?

    >>Tuition fees rising

    Tuition fees are not paid by students, only those graduates who get good jobs. Students are not impoverished by the fees because they don’t pay them. Your scare mongering is putting off poor people from attending university. You are hurting the people you claim to represent. You are reducing social mobility.

    >>The third ingredient in this cocktail is housing

    If you look at the numbers there is more social housing being built this year than under the last Labour government.

    >>It is today’s young people who will suffer from this housing shortage.

    I think you will find that most social housing goes to people who are too old to be called ‘youth’.

    Housing should go to those who need it, not those who want a free place of their own. Why should youths on benefits get their own places while middle class youths have to live with their parents?

    Labour really need to take a look in the mirror. Help those who really need help. Stop trying to buy votes by giving handouts to those in the middle who are less affluent because you are ignoring those at the very bottom in the name of politics. Shame on you.

  19. CYWUnite

    RT @leftfootfwd: The devastating crisis http://t.co/dxPVFA83

  20. Kevin Richards

    Never thought we would see this in 21st Century RT @leftfootfwd: The devastating crisis hitting Britain’s young people http://t.co/CTtiRPMx

  21. Leon Wolfson

    nonny mouse – As opposed to the deliberate pain the Tories are heaping on the bottom? That they’re giving a few highly conditional twigs is irrelevant when they plan to displace many of the poorest workers with slave labour, for instance.

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