Poorest say they 'have no future'

Sean O'Grady
Wednesday 18 May 2011 12:41 BST

Thousands of young people from Britain’s poorest families believe they will achieve “few” or “none” of their goals in life, fostering the growth of a new “youth underclass” a report from The Prince’s Trust warns today.

The Trust paints a devastating picture of the obstacles facing children trying to learn in homes where they haven’t even their own bed, let alone books or a computer. Yesterday the Prime Minister acknowledged that youth employment is a “very severe problem", with almost one million 16 to 24-year-olds looking for work, adding that the country had a "schools problem" and an "opportunity problem". He said: "This is a very severe problem. We understand the extent of it...We have got to fix the problem of people leaving school without adequate qualifications.”

Yet decades of initiatives under governments of both parties aimed at improving social mobility and equality of opportunity appear to have had a minimal impact on the children at the bottom of the social scale.

The Princes Trust/RBS Report found that one in four of those from deprived homes (26 per cent) believe that “few” or “none” of their career goals are achievable, because “people like them don’t succeed in life” - compared to just seven per cent of those from affluent families. The research also shows how one in ten young people from the poorest families did not have their own bed when they were growing up. More than a quarter (29 per cent) had few or no books in their home, while one in three were “rarely” or “never” read to by their parents. More than a third (36 per cent) did not have anywhere quiet at home to do their schoolwork, two-fifths did not have a desk and more than a quarter had no access to a computer.

Martina Milburn, chief executive, youth charity The Prince’s Trust said: “The aspiration gap between the UK’s richest and poorest young people is creating a ‘youth underclass’ – who tragically feel they have no future.

Leading economist Professor David Blanchflower added; "This report highlights the urgent need to tackle social immobility in the UK. There is an ambition crisis among our poorest young people, causing thousands to lose faith in their own abilities and aspirations. These feelings of hopelessness are often passed down from generation to generation and can spread throughout our most deprived communities."

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