Young people face the worst economic prospects for several generations, according to a report released on Friday by The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Words and images: Isabella Ellis, Sub-Editor: Mariya Savova
The study, ’Is Britain Fairer?’, concludes that those under 34 have suffered the biggest drop in income and employment during the recent recession and up until two years ago.
While for some barriers to economic success were found to have decreased, for the young they have significantly increased since the Tory led coalition came to power in 2010.
We took a look at some of the barriers identified in the report.
Education costs keep rising
The Conservative-led coalition cut the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in 2010 as 620,000 college students from Britain’s poorest families found their weekly support grant removed. In an NUS poll, 60% of recipients said they would no longer be able to continue their education without the funding.
But, the Tory cuts to education didn’t stop at removing EMA. Led by UK Prime Minister David Cameron tuition fees were raised to £9,000 a year and Conservative MP William Hague has indicated that they could rise again.
Cuts to the lifeline university maintenance grants were then unveiled in George Osborne’s summer 2015 budget. From 2016, students will no longer qualify for the maintenance grant, worth £3,387 a year to students from families earning less than £25,000.
“This report should be wake-up call to ministers. Hiking up university and college fees and excluding young people from the new higher minimum wage rate is not the way to build a fair and prosperous Britain. It is the blueprint for a lost generation,” said TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady .
Getting on the housing ladder is becoming a distant dream
The UK’s deepening housing crisis centred in London isn’t new information to many but it certainly isn’t showing any sign of getting better, either.
And it’s young people that are coming off worst as house prices soar, a shortage of homes continues and landlords demand ever-increasing rents.
If things continue, by 2027 more Londoners will rent from a private landlord than own their home. It’s not surprising that the Tory’s increasing the mansion tax threshold and reviving Margaret Thatcher’s right to buy scheme wasn’t welcomed by many struggling Britons.
London Mayoral candidate, Labour MP Sadiq Khan, has responded by unveiling plans to support those campaigning for freezing rents and to regularly publish a list of the best and worst landlords in the capital.
The living wage doesn’t apply if you’re under 25
At the end of George Osborne’s 2015 budget speech came the introduction of the living wage, as the Chancellor announced that it would be compulsory to pay £7.20 an hour to workers over the age of 25 from April 2016.
‘Britain’s getting a pay rise!’ exclaimed the jubilant right-wing press; failing to note the disparaged young people who missed out on the promotion.
For those grappling with mounting university debt and failing to find their way onto the property ladder this was little but a kick in the teeth. The divide highlighted by the report looks only set to worsen under the living wage, with research conducted by the Scottish parliamentary information centre finding that under 18’s will earn £6,500 less a year than over 25s in the same job.
We are becoming less tolerant of minorities, again
On a positive note, tolerance towards racial diversity and sexual orientation has improved according to the EHCR report.
However, it also found significant increases in hate crimes with an Islamophobic or antisemitic motive between 2008 and 2013. Unfortunately, since then the situation has worsened – with anti-Muslim attacks nearly quadrupling following the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
But it’s minority groups who stand alongside young people in bearing the brunt of the economic inequality, Sikhs suffered the biggest wage cut, losing £1.90 an hour and black peoples decreased by £1.20.
When Earnest Hemingway popularised the term a ‘lost generation’ he was referring to the generation which followed World War I – destined to be young, directionless and vanished.
Now, 100 years later, it seems today’s youth are re-discovering the writer’s term for themselves.