2007 - 2021

Forget compassionate conservatism – this budget was a full frontal assault on the young

womenandgirlsAs Child Poverty Action report 13 million families will lose an average of £260 a year from changes we look at the implications.

I work for a children’s charity and volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau. I’ve witnessed first-hand the human cost of the Chancellor’s deficit reduction obsession, and I know that everyone working in the third sector anticipated the first wholly Conservative budget for 19 years with a sense of dread.

True to form, this ideologically driven budget has continued George Osborne’s relentless attack on the poor and disabled, with policies which suggest that Osborne believes that poverty is best addressed by taking money away from the poor.

A thirty percent cut to Employment Support Allowance will devastate the lives of those unable to work due to illness or disability. Cuts to working tax credits will take money directly out of the pockets of the very people who need it most.

However, it is upon the heads of the young that the axe will fall heaviest.

The Chancellor challenged young people to “earn or learn” with his “youth obligation”, which will force under 21s who find themselves out of work for six months to do community service in return for their benefits.

Those under 25 who do find work will be excluded from Osborne’s headline grabbing National Living Wage, which at £7.20 is still some distance from the current living wage of £7.85 and insufficient to compensate for the loss of tax credits which are a vital lifeline to the lowest paid workers.

Housing benefit will be withdrawn altogether for 18 to 21-year-olds, placing our most vulnerable young people at severe risk of homelessness. The government clearly do not recognise that the majority of young people claiming housing benefit do so out of crisis, not choice.

Some will be looked after children leaving care, others will be attempting to flee domestic violence or have been kicked out due to arguments at home, while many more will be leaving their communities in order to find work elsewhere.

This too has been made more difficult as the rise in insurance premium tax will mean that drivers aged between 17 and 22 will find themselves paying an average premium of £1,247 a year – an increase of almost £40 – before any other motoring bills have been paid.

This is typical of a Conservative Party that occupies a weird parallel universe where every young person has a wealthy mum and dad who can put them up, lend them money for a deposit and provide the extra cash required to put them through university and top up their wages.

This isn’t the world I knew when I was growing up in Fife, and it’s not the one I see around me in Leith today.

During the budget, Osborne stated that a life on benefits was a “lifestyle choice”, displaying a complete lack of understanding of the corrosive effect poverty has on those who are struggling in one of the developed world’s most unequal countries.

Yet rather than address this issue, the Chancellor has helped ensure that the gap between rich and poor will grow even wider – but it is the children who aren’t even born yet who will suffer most.

There is a cruelty to the decision to limit child tax credits to two children, and a distastefulness to this crude form of social engineering which will apparently require women who conceive a third child as a victim of rape to justify their circumstances to the DWP or lose their benefit. All this in a week where the government ditched the legally binding child poverty targets enshrined in the Child Poverty Act.

With this budget, the government has succeeded in forcing those who share no responsibility for the banking crisis to bear the burden of deeper austerity. The Tories are peddling a perverse argument that suggests a generation of young people must suffer so that the deficit can be reduced and a generation of young people can be saved from suffering.

It makes no sense, and we’re not falling for it.


Comments (16)

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  1. Born Optimist says:

    There is only one ‘good’ side to Osborne’s latest budget and that is it should ‘force’ every young person who has no wish to end up a permanent member of the Tories desired for underclass to commit themselves to an Independent Scotland. Ditto any of their elders with a social conscience.

    As numerous academic studies have shown there is no need for such draconian policies even if you wish to ‘balance the books’ as quickly as possible. Anyone in my generation knows that when the economic situation was much worse than at present free education, a health service, rebuilding of the country was possible (though it did take many decades to pay off the debts). The comparison alone, without need for academic research and comparisons with other countries, ought to be sufficient to realise austerity for many is the outcome of political choices, not economic need.

    1. Jamie says:


  2. Jamie says:

    Agree 100%

  3. old battle says:

    Well frieends, what a hellavah state
    Scots Labour done disintegrate!
    Labour’s doon tae only wan
    So the working class must have its plan
    Tae find a voice that is its ain
    Yin that disnie carry new-labour’s shame
    That fights austerity and the cuts
    That disnie double-speak: nae buts!
    That disnie blether o’ compromise
    O’ class betrayal and Blairight lies
    Yet we must act; the time is now.
    But who? And what? And why? And how?

    Demockracy has worked its tricks
    Gin yin party 56
    A popular chorus has been sent
    Tae sing for ‘us’ in yon Parliament
    But heh…’ yu’z… the 56
    What’s the content in yer script?
    Passionate words ‘bout a ‘new nation state’?
    While folk up here have an empty plate
    Your struggle is to park yer arse
    On green benches… a bloody farce
    When yer clap gets a firm “ No thanks!”
    Hey! Don’t forgot oor hunger food banks?
    56 o’ 56, forget the fkn politricks
    The Wastemonster feeds on fresh fools
    Who forget which class writes the rules.

    So meantime, back at oor bit
    We are minded where oor poor sit
    What is the real street-level condition
    In this land o contradiction?
    Is life full? Or is life empty?
    In this land of poverty and plenty.
    We’ve been demandin for lang-ages
    Decent jobs and living wages
    For hoosies that we can afford
    Free fae landlords and the hoard
    O’ greed at war wi social need!

    Heal the pain o’ folks frustration
    In this land a sufferation!
    Hey awe yu doon there
    Listen tae a lang-sang o’despair
    Ignore the Westminster stramash
    Defend sovereignty AND the working-class!

    1. Robin Stevenson says:

      Excellent 😉

  4. Patty Morton says:

    I found the budget depressing and oppressive in the extreme. I can only echo the author’s sentiments in regard of his comments that the George Osbornes of this word exist in a parallel universe where money is no object, and rich kids know the value of nothing, their parents pay up and party on. I’ve lived in aso called Third world country. Right now, I perceive very little difference between Britain and the place where I grew up. I feel very sorry for all young people trying to keep their head above water.

  5. Elaine Fraser says:

    RE: Housing benefit – What exactly are young care leavers supposed to do? Where are they to turn ? It is outrageous that not one journalist has demanded an answer to this question despite Tories being all over every channel following the budget.
    It is absolutely imperative that we ditched their language. I noticed even the Labour MP on Question Time ,in one comment last night ( I only watched cause Tommy Sheppard was on) actually changed from saying ‘benefit’ or ‘welfare’ to using ‘social security’ . The Tories will never return to this phrase . Everything they stand for is anti-social and they want folk to feel insecure. Lets change the narrative , lets refuse to play their game . In every engagement (esp on the media) I want my political representatives to tell it like it is . Austerity should be called ‘class war’ ( Chomsky); welfare should be social security. I think language is very powerful and lets not allow them to rob us of that as well.

    1. Kimberley Cadden says:

      I completely agree; Tories have taken over the narrative, helped largely by the MSM and lets face it the Labour party, and we need to challenge their neoliberal narrative and the language of shaming and blaming the poorest and most vulnerable in society for being in the situations they are in largely because successive governments have let them down. We need to challenge this narrative and the language they use at every turn and do what we can to illuminate to as many people as possible what is actually going on here – too many people still have no idea and the MSM is worse than useless most of the time….

    2. Broadbield says:

      You’re right, Elaine. It’s the language of propaganda – a budget for “working” families, “one nation conservatism”. All lies, but pernicious in their effects.

  6. Kimberley Cadden says:

    These policies will definitely lead to a rise in homelessness – and I mean the sleeping on the streets kind as any kind of ongoing emergency accommodation relies on housing benefit to pay for it. I am sure the government will be making some exemptions but they will do their usual and make it as difficult as possible to access it. And what about people who come from abusive homes – how do you even prove that?

    I will add regarding tax credits and the third child as a result of rape – obviously its only the very small percentage of women who have actually reported their rape, then gone to court and won who could even argue for this – and it isn’t the DWP who would deal with it – its HMRC; so women would be in the position they would have to tell the Inland Revenue they were raped and provide proof…..just inhumane….

  7. Bill Fraser says:

    When will they ever learn.Austerity is a killer.

  8. Craig McKechnie says:

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  9. Helena says:

    Cannon fodder, the poor young. Just reading that Cadet Units in schools, yep you read that right, just been given a 50m boost in cash by ukok. Not enough joining up, they have to do something, keep em destitute. Always been the tory way, but of course in reality, red and blue tory way all in it together thanks very much.

  10. Fay Kennedy. says:

    It’s the same story in Australia while the pollies flaunt their feathers huffing and puffing about nothing of relevance. The people need to awaken to the snow job done on them every day through the MSM. Thank goodness there is an alternative with Bella and other indie sites. Meanwhile the right wing are moving at a faster rate than ever and seem to be unstoppable. It’s unbearable to imagine the future for the youth of the world who are always the scapegoats for that agenda.

  11. british injustice says:

    So much for our governments pre election promises of helping young people. From abolishing housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, to excluding the under 25’s to a new “living wage” that is not actually a living wage. This is typical neoliberal policies of divide and conquer and in summer budget 2015 it is our young people who have been singled out for particular focus. It is wholly undemocratic and fundamentally wrong that a bunch of mega rich elitists can govern over all of us with just 24.7% of the vote at GE2015.

    In response to the budget and other events a number of people who are concerned about how our system of politics is not working for the vast majority of it’s citizens are forming a group. The purpose of the group will be to provide a forum for UK residents sharing these concerns to get together to discuss, debate, design and build a better, fairer and more democratic political system that will work for all it’s citizens, rather than just the richest 1%.

    Meetings will take place online as webinars and it is hoped the first meeting will take place at the end of July. Anyone sharing these concerns can join the group by sending an email to [email protected] to be added to the list of invitees.

  12. C Rober says:

    The young are as fxxked as my generation were , but at least back then ye hud a coonsil hoose tae inject yer giro in….they will be lucky to get a set o works through quick quid

    Come next election , or sooner , you will see the rise once again of the YTS , aka work to benefits , privatization of the jails as slave labour like in the USA , and mibbe even NAT Service where the Scottish Squaddie is once again cheaper than a Saunbag due to EU rights for Suanbags.

    The ony hing I despair aboot is that the next gen cannot fund the gen above pensions , so it will flip on its heed , and like Greece it will be “canny pay wulnay pay”…. “see that new legislation on assisted suicide mate , how diz that work again , kin a dae it to ma maw and da n sell their hoose?”.

    The young are fitter , and angrier than the older wans , but without education are not wiser.

    The Tories in removing the young generation’s “unionisation” at point of source , either Uni or Work , or through poverty , has removed the power that they have , the same power their parents or Grandparents had shown during the poll tax , miners strikes etc.

    Austerity is a sham.

    The anti young budget was a pre-emptive strike on those fit and wise that can rise against them , , to remove the power of the people. Its also to protect a generation of privately educated University leavers from having their jobs taken , to make sure its them running the country and the media , its wealth protection for the 1% instead – but paraded as austerity.

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