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From: The Socialist issue 857, 27 May 2015: Stop Tory welfare butchery

Search site for keywords: Young people - Youth - Jobs - Youth Fight for Jobs - Welfare - Housing - Tories - Education - Government - Housing benefit - Pay - Austerity - Students - Minimum wage - Cuts - Fees

Tories threaten young people's welfare, housing and education

Fight for our future!

photo Paul Mattsson

photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Helen Pattison, Youth Fight for Jobs

Sitting in my first A-level economics lesson a year before US bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy my teacher said to us: "before you finish this course the economy will have crashed and there will be an economic crisis".

Growing up after the crash, the impact of austerity hits you at every turn. At college students have lost EMA (money for students from low income families to help pay for books and travel).

University fees have been tripled to 9,000 a year with further hikes threatened. There are no decent jobs - unemployment, zero-hour contracts and bogus self-employment plague the job market. As if it hasn't been tough enough growing up in austerity Britain, the Tories have more in store.

All of these changes are in the name of austerity - cutting back on government spending on the services, support and welfare many of us will need at some point in our lives.

After years of this approach, the economy is still not in a strong position and working class and young people are suffering increasing poverty. Despite this, it's not been a difficult time for everyone: landlords charging sky-high rents to low paid tenants, for example, receive 9 billion in housing benefit every year.

Housing benefit

Youth Fight for Jobs points out that the housing benefit bill could be slashed by capping rents at an affordable level.

If the Tories succeed, 18 to 21 year olds will no longer be able to claim housing benefit. Already only 5.5% of properties in London are affordable to under-35s. Around 20,000 people will be affected and a spike in youth homeless is guaranteed.

The housing situation for young people is already dire - the last government oversaw an increase in homelessness and evictions. Half of those who've declared themselves homeless are under-25.

The companies we work for and the poverty wages they pay are part of the problem too. They should be forced to pay a 10 an hour minimum wage - to begin to reflect the real cost of living.

The other change is to Jobseekers' Allowance. Young people will be shifted on to the Youth Allowance. They will have to work for 30 hours a week and job search for ten hours, or lose their benefits. This works out at 1.91 an hour - 3.22 less than the minimum wage for under-21's.

Contrary to Cameron's declaration that this scheme will "effectively abolish long-term youth unemployment" it will make youth unemployment worse. Why employ someone on a proper contract when the job centre will send you young people to work for free?

It's a race to the bottom with the government forcing 50,000 people to work for well below the minimum wage. There are examples of staff being made redundant and then forced to work for free for their old employer under similar previous schemes. Youth Fight for Jobs says, if there's work to do, pay a proper wage and give a proper contract for someone to do it!

Mass protests

Cameron and the Tories will not solve the housing or job crisis. The plans and schemes they have put in place are benefiting big business. But rather than being ground down, it's time to push back. The wave of protests after the election is just the beginning.

We call on young people to join a union, get active and campaign to make it a fighting organisation that struggles hard for the things we need.

The trade unions have a responsibility to reach out and organise the many young workers in un-unionised, casualised workplaces. Trade unions such as the bakers' union BFAWU are actively organising like this with Youth Fight for Jobs in the Fast Food Rights campaign - calling for 10 an hour now, trade union rights and an end to zero-hour contracts.

Students from school to university will not sit still while education is dismantled around them. In south London, students at schools threatened with academy status have organised big protests and student ballots - showing the fightback they can organise.

In 2010 hundreds of thousands of young people took part in the student movement against the trebling of tuition fees and the scrapping of EMA. We need to rekindle the spirit of that movement.

And young people will be at the forefront of community campaigns against sanctions, benefit cuts and the closure of local services.

We have to keep up the pressure on government and local councils. It is young renters who have led many of the inspiring occupations and protests against the housing crisis, particularly in London.

Join Youth Fight for Jobs and help prepare for a mass movement of young people against austerity. A summer of protest fuelled by anger from below is the welcome this Tory government deserves. for reports of the day of action to protest at the Queens Speech on 27 May and for details of protests on the next day of action - budget day on 8 July
photo Nancy Taaffe

photo Nancy Taaffe   (Click to enlarge)

Youth Fight for Jobs demands:

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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