Owen Jones: Are the Tories trying to make young people hate them?

The large majority of housing benefit claimants simply cannot afford extortionate rents

Owen Jones
Monday 25 June 2012 13:52 BST

It's as though the Tories are trying to raise a generation to hate them. If you're young and not cushioned by a trust fund, you are within your rights to feel a bit victimised by David Cameron's government. The trebling of tuition fees with the support of the Liberal Democrats – a party that promised to abolish them – became emblematic of the political establishment's betrayal of the young. To some of the poorest, the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance was symbolic of a government of millionaires slamming the door in their faces.

The list of cuts is long: to local authorities, with youth services often first for the chop; the Aim-Higher scheme promoting access in universities; the Future Jobs Fund, even as youth unemployment soars. For some groups, the situation is bleaker: over half of young black men are now without work.

The proposed scrapping of housing benefit for under-25s is just the latest kick. Cameron attempts to tap into the resentment of the working poor at the unemployed on benefits, as with private sector workers against public sector workers over pensions. But the large majority of housing benefit claimants are actually in work: it is just that they cannot afford extortionate rents. If the Government was serious about taking down the housing benefit bill, it would build social housing, phase in rent caps and introduce a living wage.

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