“When I was your age” so the boring mantra your parents repeat goes, “I got a job and looked after myself”
Sometimes, listening to the Tories announce a budget and its measures to building success for the next generation (!) you can’t help but feel like Osborne is your dad, berating you for not trying hard enough.
Yay! A Lifetime ISA whereupon the government grants you £1 for every £4 you save! Nothing can stop you now! Except, we don’t have that £4 to begin with, do we? Unlike our parents, hard work simply won’t do. Few millennials can afford to save, even fewer to save to buy a home. Our economic betrayal has been a long-term process. Labour, admittedly, thrived off a housing boom that has left us perpetually locked out of the market. But it is these past 6 years of Osborne budgets that have drastically increased generational inequality, and this budget is no different.
Just look at the tax policies of this budget. Perfectly designed to transfer wealth from the poorest to the richest, and by de facto the young to the old. Renters to homeowners. If you are earning between £20,000 and £50,000, you gain £112. Those earning more than that gain a staggering £427 more a year. The winners and losers are also thoroughly pronounced with the Capital Gains tax cut, too. This will push up house prices. In fact, the Capital Gains tax was perhaps the only thing even remotely concerning housing, so us young people will have to wait another round to see if the housing market will become any more accessible to us in the future. Hint: it won’t. Landlords vote.
What about the welfare bill that is being hauled through Parliament? Its effects will leave more than half a million more children in poverty by 2020. And if you’re young and disabled, you are facing one of the most devastating onslaughts the British welfare state has ever seen. 600,000 disabled people will be affected by PIP cuts, and all the revenue is cancelled out –or spent on, even- on tax cuts for the top 15%.
Even the sugar tax, by all means a dead cat, impacts low-income kids more than any other demographic.
This entire budget is about transferring wealth from young to old. Regardless of rhetoric.
And that just about sums up Osborne. The strange thing about Osbornomics is its rhetorical commitment to the long-term, but its stringent, real life embrace of the short-term. This applies to the young too. In a race to clear the deficit for a surplus –that will, without doubt, be used to fund more boomer tax cuts- he has sacrificed the future generation and through this the future of our country. The future of our infrastructure, consumer spending, productivity and ultimately growth are being washed aside in the pursuit of a smaller state and a memorial to the populist narrative of ‘living within our means’. Of course, it never is quite argued that expanding those means is an essential part of any economy, and that means investing. None more so is it important than to invest in future workers.
The problem with the future workers, of course, is that we do not vote. This budget was about pandering to the middle-earners that will propel Osborne to the Tory leadership and finally to Number 10. If that relies on appealing over the head of non-voting and Labour-voting millennials, then so be it. There is no political cost, only political gain.
Every single budget Osborne has announced has made life just that little bit harder for children and millennials, and a whole lot easier for boomers. The difference with this budget, is that, spectacularly, it painted itself as a ‘budget for the next generation’. At least the others didn’t pretend to empower us. No, this one is painting the withdrawal of every service and luxury our parents received as being a good thing for us.
0/10, Mr Osborne, you sound like an out-of-touch dad. It’s now up to Labour to stand up for millennials by demanding fair wages, decent housing and as equal opportunities as our parents.
Jade Azim is a Young Fabian member