Young face a life of poverty

by Daphne Liddle

BEING YOUNG in Britain today is becoming a nightmare as soaring youth unemployment figures coincide with a prediction from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) that child poverty is set to rise as a result of Con-Dem Coalition policies.

And coming at a time when entry into higher education is becoming far more difficult for young people from low-income homes, it means that hundreds of thousands of young people could be doomed to a life of poverty, unemployment and will die about 10 years younger than their wealthy counterparts.

The study from the IFS forecasts poverty for each year between 2010-11 and 2015-16, and for 2020-21. It accounts for all announced tax and benefits policies, including Universal Credit, and incorporates the latest official economic and demographic forecasts.

The report revealed that both relative and absolute poverty are set to rise as real incomes for the vast majority of households decline steeply. Many who now think of themselves as middle class will be facing serious hardship.

Absolute poverty is forecast to rise over the next three years by about 600,000 children and 800,000 working-age adults. Median income is expected to fall by around seven per cent in real terms, which would be the largest three-year fall for 35 years.

After that the Universal Credit system will improve the situation a little but not enough to offset other changes the Government is making to the tax and benefits system.


According to the report: “Absolute and relative child poverty are forecast to be 23 per cent and 24 per cent (over three million children) in 2020-21 respectively. These compare to the targets of five per cent and 10 per cent, set out in the Child Poverty Act (2010) and passed with cross-party support.

Child poverty fell by nearly a quarter between 1998 and 2009, but this was still not enough for the Labour government to hit its child poverty target to reduce it by half.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “This devastating report leaves the government’s child poverty and social mobility strategies in jeopardy.

“Ministers seem to be in denial that, under current policies, their legacy threatens to be the worst poverty record of any government for a generation.”

Meanwhile unemployment in general has risen by 114,000 to 2.57 million, giving an unemployment rate of 8.1 per cent — a 17-year high, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.


Around 150,000 people were made redundant in the latest three months, an increase of 6,000 over the previous quarter. The number in work fell by 178,000 is the quarter up to August. And the number of part-time workers fell by 175,000.

The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work increased by 74,000 over the latest quarter to 991,000, a rate of 21.3 per cent, the highest total since comparable records began in 1992.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “The Tories and Lib Dems’ big gamble that private sector growth would create enough jobs to compensate for their cuts in public sector jobs has not come off, as the rise to 2.57 million without jobs shows.”

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: “These shocking figures show that it is women and young people who are taking the heaviest hit from this Con-Dem government’s slash and burn attack on public services and the wider economy.

“Lives have been devastated while the bankers and speculators who created the financial meltdown have got away with murder.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “These are terrible figures. The Government’s austerity measures have turned unemployment into a full-blown crisis — with job losses not seen since the darkest days of the recession.

“Worryingly, this is not simply the result of Eurozone troubles. This unemployment crisis is state-sponsored, and areas like the North East are paying a heavy price, with over one in 10 people out of work.”

On 25th October hundreds of young people are set to descend on Westminster between 11.30am and 4pm to lobby MPs against cuts to youth services.The event is organised by Choose Youth, an alliance of over 30 national youth sector organisations and trade unions, including Unite.