Ed Miliband will step up Labour’s drive to woo young voters by claiming that they have been betrayed by the Coalition Government while pensioners have got richer.
In speeches over the next two days, the Labour leader is expected to confirm his party’s plan to cut university tuition fees from a maximum of £9,000 to £6,000 a year. Vice-chancellors have warned the move could create a funding crisis in higher education, while other critics claim it would benefit higher-earning graduates the most.
Mr Miliband will argue that a better deal for today’s young people would be good for society as a whole. He hopes that many older people will agree but his suggestion that pensioners have won a “generational war” could alienate some older voters.
Labour insists it is not playing a divisive “generation game” after David Cameron wooed the “grey vote” by promising to keep winter fuel allowances, free TV licences and bus passes for all pensioners. But Labour’s pitch carries risks because older people are much more likely to vote than young people.
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
1/6 Settled Silvers
These are the comfortably-off over-60s, still in work or drawing a decent pension – or both – who are enjoying their entitlements such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence. They are worried about immigration and Europe. Both the Conservatives – who are pledging to keep benefits for wealthier pensioners – and Ukip want their votes
2/6 Squeezed Semis
Slightly older than the Harassed Hipsters, they are the second key group for Labour’s family-focused election strategy. They are married couples on low to middle incomes who own unpretentious semi-detached homes in suburban areas. In 2001, these were the Pebbledash People sought by the Conservatives. Now the pebbledash is gone and a modest conservatory has been built at the back
3/6 Aldi Woman
In 1997 and 2001 she was Worcester Woman – a middle-class Middle Englander shopping at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Today, the age of austerity means she still goes to Waitrose for her basic food shop but cannily switches to Aldi for her luxury bargains such as Parma ham and prosecco. Identified by Caroline Flint, she is a key target of both Labour and the Conservatives
4/6 Glass Ceiling Woman
In her thirties or forties, she has an established career under her belt, perhaps in the “marzipan layer” – one position below the still male-dominated senior executive level. She is now, according to Nick Clegg, forced into making the “heart-breaking choice” between staying at home to bring up her children and going to work and forking out for high-cost, round-the-clock childcare
5/6 Harassed Hipsters
One of the two key groups identified by Labour as crucial to hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street. Well-paid professional couples, often with children, they live in diverse urban and metropolitan areas rather than the suburbs. More comfortably off than most swing voters, they are time poor – struggling to balance raising a young family with busy work schedules
These are mainly first-time voters, though some are in their twenties – students and digital-age generation renters helping to fuel the “Green Surge”. Idealists, but with no tribal loyalty to any party, they are anti-austerity, middle class, living in urban areas. Despite studying at university or recently graduated, they are struggling to find decent jobs and want cheaper housing and a higher minimum wage
Mr Miliband will tell the EEF manufacturers’ organisation: “So many of you have told me that you fear your young employees, or your sons and daughters, are being given a raw deal from cuts early years learning to overcrowded classrooms, from a lack of decent apprenticeships to the trebling of tuition fees, from being priced out of their first home to being excluded from having a voice in this election.”
He will warn that Britain needs almost 160,000 engineers a year but is producing fewer than 75,000, and so faces a shortfall of more than 400,000 by 2020. Labour has pledged to guarantee an apprenticeship for school-leavers getting the right grades.
In a report published on Thursday, the New Policy Institute research group said 29 per cent of 19-25 year-olds are in poverty – a six-point increase on a decade ago, the biggest rise seen in any age group.
It found that the main reason was a fall in the employment rate among young people but housing costs were also a factor. The proportion of young adults in private rented accommodation rose by 10 points to 37 per cent over the past 10 years.
Hannah Aldridge, the report’s author, said: “The last decade was the perfect storm for young adult poverty. Unemployment amongst young adults soared and even now it is still three times higher than for other adults. For those in work, a high and growing proportion live in the private rented sector where housing costs are higher.”Reuse content