General election 2015: What are the issues affecting students?

 

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The Independent Online

It’s fair to say that Britain could be heading for another hung Parliament next year.

In the leadup to 2015, plans and manifestos are already being drawn; Ed Miliband is declaring a turnaround against the Coalition’s policies if Labour are victorious, while the Tories plan to continue their extended budget plan through to 2017 if they are allowed to remain in power.

But one thing being overlooked is the impact that either of these plans will have on young people. Hundreds of thousands of students and young people will be voting next year in what is their first general election and parties do not seem to be targeting them as a way to win.

This is bad strategy. After all, if you were a young person like me with a year left to go, wouldn’t you be starting to think about where you want to go and who’s going to get you there?

Students will be affected in a number of ways.

The start of this year has seen a number of ideas put forward from both sides of the spectrum, arguments that will send student welfare spinning in a different direction.

The Tories have started with an advantage when it comes to youth unemployment.

The figures released last month showed a drop of 125,000 nationwide, which puts a wider perspective on graduates leaving university to find their first job.

But there has been little change in the number of young people being classed as economically inactive, and even been a drop of 29,000 of young people in a part-time job since last quarter.

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves has called for faster action and claims that the Coalition's plans are not strong enough.

£8 billion has been proposed in Miliband’s Manifesto to tackle this crisis by introducing one million jobs in areas like the North East which have been hit hardest by Coalition cuts. But will this involve spending money the country doesn’t have and will it benefit leaving graduates? This has not been discussed.

And then the Conservatives dig a hole for themselves with the next issue: that of housing.

The Chancellor announced last year that housing benefit would be scrapped for under 25s as part of the big plan. The big problem here is that only 49 per cent of 20-24 year olds are living at home with their parents.

Bearing in mind this is on the rise, scrapping housing benefit will only make the problem worse. Graduates leaving university will struggle to find a home before they can even find a job.

And since it was the coalition that decided to raise tuition fees in the first place, it seems like they’re trying to put young people between a rock and a hard place with no way out.

Labour is again planning to turn this on its head - but again they are currently smoothing over the spending. Can they afford it?

It’s only early days, but it seems that neither of the major parties is interested in helping student welfare at this time. They don’t seem to realise what a new opportunity we are to gain votes.

I can only hope that in the coming months, more legislation is proposed to benefit student welfare. There is no clear winner at this point, but there is no student representation to make a winner.

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