There is a feeling that this generation are losing out. Last year saw youth unemployment hit 1 million, the number of young people not in Education, Employment or Training rose by 12% and another 500,000 children entered poverty raising the total to 3 million.
Even those currently safe from the economic storm are facing problems their parents would never had dreamed of. The average age of first home ownership is now 39 and applications to university have plummeted 15% on the back of sky high tuition fees and pension reform means our generation working for longer, contributing far more and receiving a lot less than previous generations.
Just look at what is happening to welfare reform which has singled out young people, children now exclusively a financial burden on the State rather than our national future.
Nationally the Government’s economic plan has so far failed on two accounts: to generate growth and employment, and to cut the deficit in any meaningful sense. In fact the Government expects to borrow another £111bn over the next four years, the years of austerity will leave us with £24bn in borrowing – around the same as Alastair Darling forecast in his last budget.
But, after austerity, what? There is a growing feeling among young people that our generation has been sold down the river, that the social costs and benefits have been distributed unfairly between generations and that it is young people today who are being forced to pay. Any necessary pain now isn’t being paired with any promise about tomorrow.
2012 is the year for these questions. Whilst the UK and London gear up for the international showcase that is the Olympics, to showcase all that is best of British, we are wondering what legacy will have been secured after the £9.3bn has been spent and the world moves on? The year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, should be the year not just for celebrating all that is great about Great Britain but also when we mark our commitment to make Britain better.
What should make us worry is the feeling that young people are losing the sense that parliamentary democracy can deliver social change. Fewer young people voted in the last general election than at any time since the war. The riots last August hinted at a worrying growth in social alienation among many young people. And international Occupy movements, having taken these debates out of political institutions and onto the streets, are now being moved on.
We don’t think any of this is good enough.
That is why we’re launching this years Young Fabian policy commissions under the banner of ‘Generation Crisis?’. These commissions will be looking at the key challenges facing our generation now, but also what future challenges our generation should get ready to tackle. We’ll be looking not just at the issues young people in the UK face, but also at the issues that young people are facing around the world and how we can support/learn from them.
The UK faces a turning point: a future where more will have to be done with less. A society where being left behind is a reality, where, unless we take action, inequality will dictate the lives of a generation and their children. A world potentially less confident and less open.
Or something different. That is where you can help.
If you are a Young Fabian member and are interested in chairing one of our commissions this year then please apply here before the 14th March.
If you would like to sign up to take part in the commissions then email Vincenzo Rampulla at email@example.com and find out how you can make 2012 the year we work out how to stop the crisis.
By Vincenzo Rampulla and Claire Leigh, Young Fabian Executive