Osborne's Cruel Lessons for Generation Y

The Evening Standard (London, England), September 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Osborne's Cruel Lessons for Generation Y


Byline: Richard Godwin

ACCORDING to George Osborne, positively vibrating with satisfaction this week, we should all take delight in the economic news. Apparently, the recent growth figures have "decisively ended" the debate about his policies. Really? Well that depends who's debating.

If you're renting in Mile End, another surge in house prices is likely to fill you with despair, not elation. A teenager on a zero-hours contract in Enfield may wonder what he's supposed to do with a 0.7 per cent rise in GDP, just as an unemployed history graduate in Woolwich will struggle to see how a new car plant in Solihull will help her job prospects.

Meanwhile, a retiree in Richmond whose experiment with the buy-to-let market is paying off very nicely, thank you, may wonder what all this recession business is about.

To put it another way, any economic forecast is a generalisation that conceals huge inequalities and inequities. Generation Y (those born 1980-2000) have very good reason to feel that Osborne is describing a country to which they don't belong.

After all, it is Britain's young who are most likely to be trapped in the overheated rental market, most likely to be on a zero-hours contract, most likely to use payday loan companies, most likely to have slaved under an unlawful "Workfare" scheme, and most likely to be unemployed even now. …

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