SINCE the election of the Tory-led coalition government in 2010, young people have been hammered into the ground to the extent that they face the ‘worst economic future’ for generations.
This is the finding of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), a public body set up to promote equality and non-discrimination in Britain, in its latest state-of-the-nation report issued on Thursday. According to the report, ‘Is Britain Fairer?’, young people (defined as those under 35 years old) have experienced bigger cuts in pay and jobs than any other section of the population.
At the same time, their chance of obtaining decent, affordable housing has similarly rapidly gone down.
According to official statistics, unemployment for 16 to 24-year-olds stands at 14.8% for the three months leading up to August this year, meaning 683,000 youth are officially classified as out of work. This report, while expressing dismay at the inequality in terms of jobs, pay and housing being heaped on young people, does not go anywhere near exposing the true extent of the Tory onslaught against youth.
Young people, who have already lost the maintenance allowance which helped them through secondary education, have seen university fees trebled by the Tories, saddling hundreds of thousands of students with huge debts on leaving college. Unemployed youth are being subjected to a virtual ‘reign of terror’ with the Tories proposing ‘boot camps’ for 16 to 21-year-olds – or face being thrown off benefits and left to survive without the means to pay for even the most basic requirement for life – food and housing.
New Tory laws will strip the right to housing benefit and tax credits for all youth under the age of 22 even if they are married with children. Even the Tories’ pathetically inadequate ‘national living wage’ of £7.20 an hour, due to come in next April, will be denied to young workers under 25 who will remain on the current minimum wage of £6.70.
All this, of course, doesn’t even begin to take into account the hundreds of thousands of young people forced into zero-hours contracts. While over a trillion pounds has been poured into propping up the bankrupt banks, and the Tories ensure that the rich continue to receive their tax breaks and inheritance rights enabling them to pass on their wealth to their own children, working class and middle class youth are being driven into the gutter.
This goes way beyond the income inequality that the EHRC complain about in their report – it represents an all-out war to make workers and especially youth pay for the crisis of capitalism.
This inescapable fact is lost completely on the leadership of the trade unions who do nothing for young people except engage in yet more pleading with Cameron and Osborne to halt their relentless attack on youth.
TUC general secretary Francis O’Grady responded to this damning report by saying: ‘This report should be a 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.’
The Tories don’t need a ‘wake-up call’. They are completely conscious of the need to drop the catastrophic crisis of capitalism squarely on the backs of workers and youth. What is needed is for the TUC to call a general strike to kick them out!
This is not a ‘lost generation’; young people are a revolutionary generation who daily are learning that this bankrupt capitalist system can offer no future except poverty, starvation and homelessness. Youth will not accept this fate and are quickly recognising that only by the overthrow of capitalism and going forward to a socialist society, where production is for human need not for the profit of a handful of capitalists and bankers, can they be certain of any decent future.
Youth, the most revolutionary section of the working class, are in the vanguard of the building of the revolutionary leadership of the WRP and Young Socialists. This leadership is necessary, even essential for leading the British socialist revolution to its victory. Join today and attend our News Line Anniversary Rally on November 22.