Students have suffered enough: Labour shouldn't axe benefits for the under-25s

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves is "considering" cutting youth benefits

Last night, it emerged that the Labour party is considering proposals that would mean people under the age of 25 would be barred from claiming unemployment benefits. This comes just weeks after David Cameron announced that this was practically his plan too, suggesting that under 25s would not be eligible for state benefits unless working, earing or in training.

While the immediate backlash to the Labour idea seems to have ensured their press team are now calling the story “overblown”, the worrying part is that after two decades of New Labour, the story was all too believable.

The political narrative of effectively blaming young people, and other minority groups in society needs to end.

For young people in and looking to enter higher education, prospects have never looked bleaker. With fees already set at a staggering £9,000 for undergraduate courses, alongside huge living costs, the NUS revealed last month that students face a funding shortfall of £7,654 inside London and £7,693 outside the capital. This is taking into account all possible loans and bursaries that a student may be eligible for.

In essence, entering higher education is becoming more and more an opportunity reserved for the privileged. But oh well, it’s not like our university leaders are talking of trying to raise fees again, to say, £16,000? £20,000?

And it’s hardly like graduates are finding themselves in a position where they can support themselves, what with student and private sector debts, salaries for graduates down 12 per cent between 2007 and 2011, and half of graduates unable to find graduate-level jobs.

If university now seems like an unrealistic prospect, which to many it will be, with debts increasing and shortfalls on the rise, it’ll be so much worse if young people are expected to find work or be in training just to be eligible for state support. In July to September 2013, 965,000 16-24 year olds were unemployed, or 21 per cent. This statistic is not one that suggests young people are failing to find work, but that there is a systematic and societal problem where young people simply haven’t got jobs to fill.

Current Government policy sees some young people forced to work for free under “workfare” to ensure benefit payments are made, and it’s policy like this, alongside the growth of unpaid internships and the UK’s continual failure to invest sustainably and tax fairly, that perpetuate young people’s lack of opportunity and ensure they remain ostracised from society .

Before politicians begin to throw the blame for our current state of misery, we should all be analysing the propositions they are making with a keen eye. Young people are by no means alone as scapegoats, with attacks being made on the disabled, asylum seekers, immigrants, prisoners and pretty much anyone else who’s already suffering from the economic and political crisis we appear to be entrenched in. However, the supposed opportunities that young people have are by no means accessible to all. 

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Developer - Norfolk - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Software Developer - Norf...

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine