Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn

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Councillor Kieran Quinn

Listen to young people

Tuesday, 03 October 2017

A group of people that are often overlooked by politicians but are perhaps one that we should make more effort to listen to were surveyed this month in a study for the British Council. That group of people is the young.

It’s simple electoral mathematics that rather cynically dictates the level of attention that our leaders give to the views of the young; that is, they simply don’t turn out to vote in the same numbers as the older generations. Though, even though June’s election may have signalled that this is changing, had the turnout of young people not jumped, the survey of 2000 18 to 30-year-olds by think tank Demos should act as a wake-up call.

The results of the survey revealed that young people in Britain are fearful for their prospects. Looking at what Britain is offering the young compared to what was offered to my generation may help to explain why.

Whilst a school leaver in the 70s could look forward to a decent, well paid, job for life with regular hours, a school leaver today cannot enjoy the same opportunity without having gone on to further or higher education. Even among those with additional qualifications we have university graduates on zero hour contracts delivering takeaways on push bikes.

The final salary pension schemes that ensured a comfortable retirement for millions are becoming a thing of the past; and increases in the state pension age mean that those entering the world of work today are unsure if they will ever leave it.

Home ownership is out of reach for millions as inflated house prices and the rent trap make it damn near impossible to save up enough of a deposit to get a mortgage.

This cannot go on forever. A hollowed out jobs market with millions under employed is not the basis of a strong economy. A housing market without first time buyers is not sustainable forever. And if the health and social care crisis is as bad as people say it is today, then it will be nothing compared to a few decades time after an explosion in pensioner poverty.

Those in Government, or seeking to form it, would do well to listen to the concerns of the young. With the record turnout of young people in the 2017 General Election it’s clear that they are not as politically disengaged as they are often painted. Just a couple of years ago much was said of “The promise of Britain” – that each generation would be better off than the one which preceded it. For today’s young people that promise has been broken. We urgently need a Government that will restore it.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

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