Young people are facing the worst prospects in decades, and we're all doomed if the Government fails to act

Britain's 'improving' economy is yet to have any effect on the young

Nash Riggins
Monday 02 November 2015 14:26
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Unemployment among 16-24-year-olds currently stands at 14.8 per cent
Unemployment among 16-24-year-olds currently stands at 14.8 per cent

From the outside looking in, the UK appears to be a pretty solid investment. Thanks to some fancy footwork from George Osborne, Britain has proven one of the strongest performing economies in the developed world. We’ve seen a spike in oil production, a recovery in mining and extensive growth in the City.

Yes, things are certainly looking splendid – that is, unless you’re actually in the UK, and under the age of about 30. According to a new report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Britain’s young people are actually facing some of the worst economic prospects in decades. And with politicians refusing to lift so much as a finger to try and get millennials back on track, it’s only a matter of time before their lacklustre finances start rotting our economy from the inside-out.

Let me walk you through it.

In recent years, under-24s have lost 60p an hour off their daily wages. Meanwhile, 25-to-34-year-olds have lost about £1.40. To be honest, those poor sods are actually the lucky ones, because at least they’ve got wages in the first place. Unemployment among 16-24-year-olds is currently sitting at an ugly 14.8 per cent – which is even worse than before the financial crisis. Add a complete lack of affordable housing into the mix, and things are looking pretty sorry indeed for this country’s stock of young people.

Now, most governments would see scores of promising young individuals living close, or indeed under, the poverty line and be inclined to act. Yet for whatever reason, Number 10 just doesn’t seem to care a whole lot.

Earlier this summer, we saw lots of hurrahs from the Conservative bench when Mr Osborne decided to introduce what he lovingly refers to as a “living wage”. Let’s give credit where credit is due by admitting this relatively large wage hike will benefit a whole lot of people. Yet who does it not benefit? Under-25s.

Perhaps the Chancellor wasn’t particularly fussed by this age bracket, as teens and twenty-somethings don’t usually tend to vote his way. Yet by virtually ignoring the occupational well-being of an entire generation, the UK Government is placing us all in severe financial peril.

Let’s talk economics.

When analysts want to forecast a country’s financial health, they focus largely on whether its productive capacities are expanding. This is because countries that can’t produce more have got no wiggle room for additional growth – and it’s impossible to increase one’s productive output when employment and infrastructure are on the decline.

So, why does all of this matter? Because the UK’s long-term economic health depends greatly upon the wellbeing of its up-and-coming workforce, which is reaching an all-time low. If unemployment is high, production goes down. If production goes down, revenues go down, too. In turn, investment disappears, infrastructure dries up and Britain’s sparkly GDP goes up in flames.

We’re already seeing cracks in the façade. Economic growth has stumbled across 2015, and manufacturing outputs are shrinking. This isn’t something that balancing the books can fix, and it’s not something that will bode well for an entire generation already below the breadline.

It’s time to face facts: Britain is placing the weight of its future onto the shoulders of a battered and bruised young workforce harbouring little motivation and no hope. In order to stay competitive, we’ve got to get our under-25s into work and compensate them.

People have got to come first – and so until our government is able to sort its priorities, consider any and all claims of long-term economic prosperity little more than farts in the wind. We’re setting young people up to fail, and it’s going to come back to bite us sooner than you might think.

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