Monday, 29 November 2010

How the cuts are affecting young people

By Will Scobie / @willscobie

The ConDem Government has effectively decided that it does not care about young people any more. The claim by the Conservatives and the Lib Dems to be the parties of fairness is a false one as the cuts are completely unfair.

If the vote on the raising of tuition fees is successful then students will now be asked to pay £9000 a year in fees. This effectively means that to complete a three year degree it will cost students £27000 in fees and a further £9000 to pay for accommodation and bills.  That makes a staggering £36000 to get a degree. In the current job market you need a degree to keep up and so the ConDem Government is asking young people to take on a crippling amount of debt just to better themselves. The credit crunch was caused by people taking on too much personal debt, and yet this is exactly what the Government is asking students to do. Higher Education will also be hit by a whopping 80% cut over the next few years. Research and teaching budgets are going to be slashed putting more demand onto fewer resources.

The Government has also decided in its infinite wisdom to cut the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) fund. This has effectively created a two tier education system with regards to facilities as some schools are left crumbling while others have spanking new facilities. In Thanet schools like Chatham House and Laleham Gap are left with a lack of resources and second class buildings, while Dane Court and Charles Dickens have brand new buildings with state of the art technology. This is unfair and means that some students will not achieve the best of their ability. It is well documented that middle class parents generally have a better chance of getting their children into the best schools as they are able to move into the catchment areas. The abolition of BSF is another blow for aspiring students from poorer backgrounds. The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is also taking a hit, while support staff is also being cut in schools as budgets are squeezed meaning that more vulnerable children who are in need of extra help are left without the help they require.

The ConDem Government is also doing little to help deal with chronic youth unemployment that is now common amongst university graduates. I am currently carrying on my studies, but I have several friends who are finding it very difficult to get anywhere in the job market and there is no help for them. The decision to cut the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) (p3) epitomises the Government’s attitude towards young people. FJF helped a lot of young people gain valuable experience and links in the job market, and helped to get people off their backsides and working. By deciding to cut it the Government is saying that it does not have a plan to get young people back in work.

George Osborne claimed that his emergency budget was fair, but it was anything but fair. Tripling tuition fees, slashing higher education budgets by 80% and reducing help for young unemployed are going to leave young people with little decision but to go onto benefits. By increasing tuition fees the ConDem Government is saying that poor people shouldn’t go to university and that admission should be based on wealth not ability. Cuts to the schools budgets, BSF and EMA are also a clear indicator of how the Government is treating young people, and I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. In a time of economic worry we should be encouraging young people to better themselves and go into the job market and work. Instead the Government has slammed the door in the face of youth. The signs of a generation lost to the dole are looming.