My generation are selfish bastards. It’s a well-documented thing.
We’re the “me” generation, I’ve been told more than once. We’ve had everything on a plate, we’ve had it so easy. When our parents had to work, we got awards just for turning up. Our exams got easier every year, not like the O-Levels Mum and Dad did.
It’s background noise, the hum which shapes our daily lives. Ungrateful. Undeserving. Spoilt. It gets to the point that we tune it out and carry on with our lives. Because what else can we do?
The truth from our perspective — from my perspective — however is quite different.
The budget last week was a prime example. It was, unambiguously, a sop to the pensioners, to the generations of our parents and grandparents. Which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But since at least 2010, our generation has been getting a raw deal — the shit end of the stick, to coin a phrase.
The headline figure in the budget was the changes to pensions. Pensions do matter to people of my age. Despite the fact that we’re unlikely to actually retire. But here’s how I see it: people will cash in their pensions; they will re-invest them in the most reliable asset available, which of course is property; the already over-inflated property market will continue to swell until mine and future generations will be unlikely to own their own homes, because there just aren’t enough left. Instead we’ll be stuck with the extortionate rents.
(Ironically, this could be averted with a massive housebuilding project, but that won’t happen because a) it would depress the value of the very properties which will replace pensions, and b) it would involve building on those vast open spaces which are somehow sacrosanct.)
It’s not just housing, either. Look at university education. The indignity of trebling tuition fees when a certain party (*ahem*) bought student votes en mass with promises to cut them wasn’t enough. Now the hint is that they could go up further. Which is half the story, because if the government is losing too much money on them now, then some part of the mechanism will have to change to place the greater burden of cost onto the students.
This, from the generation whose university education was free.
I don’t mind measures for those who have already paid in, I really don’t. The trouble is that pacifying those demographics seems to have come at the expense of the ones which are least placed to defend themselves. Over 900,000 young people are unemployed; what then the justification for slashing the Future Jobs Fund, which was an unambiguous success?
George Osborne called his budget a “budget for the makers, doers and savers“. Paid for by pawning the futures of those who haven’t yet had the chance to make, do or save. The youth of Britain, miraculously, aren’t in revolt. But looking at the facts, you can’t help but think they should be.
UPDATED: And as if I needed proof, the BBC are reporting that spending on youth services has fallen by 36% in the last two years.