Millions of young people under 25 across the UK will be feeling left out of the Summer Budget delivered to Parliament on Friday 14th July 2015. The first budget of this Parliament saw the end of university maintenance grants and saw a new minimum wage re-branded as a ‘living wage’ introduced for everyone – except young people under 25!
The Chancellor, George Osborne MP, also announced that a new loan will replace university grants – a vital source of support for young adults who are really in need of support to get through University. The British Youth Council are opposed to tuition fees and loans (preferring the system in place in Scotland) and have been highlighting that debt has been putting off many from applying to University. But we also oppose this new plan and believe student grants should be safeguarded and more importantly they should be in line with the current cost of living. The grants are for young people who are real need of financial support through higher education and we can’t support the removal of that safety net.
The new compulsory ‘living wage’ proposed by the Government at £7.20 is good news for those over 25 despite being lower than the living wage advised by the Living Wage Foundation. However young people aged between 21-24 earning (with the planned 20p increase) £1.15 less than the living wage; those 18-20 £2.67 less; under 18s £4.06 less and finally apprentices who will be left with £5.12 less. This may not sound like a lot but this amounts to thousands of pounds a year and leaves young people unable to go about their day-to-day activity leading a healthy lifestyle.
The morning after the budget, British Youth Council Trustee, Mariam Waseem and Minhaz Abedin, Member of Youth Parliament responded to The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s new budget live on BBC Breakfast.
During the interview with the BBC’s Steph McGovern, Mariam Waseem, Trustee of the British Youth Council said: “I feel like young people have faced the brunt of the budget and they’ve not got a good deal at all.” When asked what she felt the biggest problem was she responded: “Well I say for me, I’d say the maintenance grant being scrapped. I know a lot of young people that rely on that. Myself included and it will deter a lot of people from low income backgrounds from going to university.”
Minhaz Abedin, Member of Youth Parliament for Leeds then went on to comment on the new proposed compulsory living wage for over 25s saying: “It’s a great leap for the Government to move to a living wage but even then it is still lower what charities and organisations are telling us [it should be]. In terms of it only being for people over 25, that is even more concerning.”
The British Youth Council plans to still advocate for a better deal for young people working, living and studying in the UK. An equal living wage for all was chosen as a priority issue by our members in the lead up to the General Election and will continue to be an issue of importance throughout this Parliament.