General Election 2015: Ed Miliband to step up Labour's drive to woo young voters

Miliband is expected to confirm Labour's plan to cut tuition fees to £6,000

Andrew Grice
Thursday 26 February 2015 01:00 GMT
Ed Miliband will claim that young people are better off voting for a Labour government
Ed Miliband will claim that young people are better off voting for a Labour government (Getty Images)

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.

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.”

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