Sam Coates, co-chair of the Young Greens, writes about what George Osborne’s Budget 2012 means for young people.
Given the treatment of young people so far under this government – tripled university fees, workfare, benefit cuts and minimum wage freezes – one doesn’t need to say we weren’t expecting much from this budget.
But what was different about this budget is that claims the old are being gold plated at the expense of the young are now looking more and more tenuous.
I’ve always believed the battles we’re facing are ones of income and class, not age. It just so happens lots of wealth happens to be held by older people. Much has been made of the tax changes for pensioners, the ‘granny tax’ that appears to be funding a tax cut for the rich.
This budget didn’t appear to harm young people beyond things we already knew about, such as freezing the minimum wage for the youngest workers, to make them ‘more competitive’ against older, obviously more valuable workers.
In fact, with the raising of the tax free personal allowance to more than £9,000, you could at first glance think young people, many of whom are stuck on part-time, low paid jobs, were benefitting at the expense of the old.
In fact I know people who will be better off from it, but that doesn’t take into account the cuts to the public services they use: the £10 billion extra to be squeezed from welfare on top of an already announced £18bn will hit young people particularly hard. Housing benefit has already been savagely attacked and this new figure suggests real-terms future cuts to benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, affecting one million young people.
What young people wanted to hear was an end to the cascade of attacks on our futures and some kind of signal jobs will be on the way soon. But we heard very little about jobs at all, with George Osborne instead spending ten minutes defending a tax cut for the richest.
• 2012: The year ahead for young people 7 Jan 2012
We heard a fair bit about investment in infrastructure, which I would have welcomed were it not in oil, gas and roads instead of forward looking industries which create far more jobs. The infrastructure improvements proposed are no good when there is no plan to create the jobs that will utilise them.