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Budgeting for age

by on July 13, 2015

Since George Osbourne’s budget speech in the UK last week there has been an increasing discussion about the impact of various announcements on young people – particularly those under 25.  Issues of concern include the phasing out of student grants, changes to housing benefit and tax credits and the minimum wage.  The increases in the latter were generally held to offset welfare cuts but since the rise in national minimum wage applies only to the over 25s, it doesn’t quite stack up.

This has today lead the Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn to label the budget ‘anti-young’ (link via BBC).  The intergenerational foundation will reportedly (here in the Guardian) demonstrate this leads to a widening of the intergenerational fairness interest with those under 30 growing poorer while those over 60 are apparently much better off.  While there are undoubtedly age-related issues brought to the fore by the budget, the simplification of this as an intergenerational issue seems to perhaps exclude a discussion of other differences that might be relevant here.  To me it seems that poor is not necessarily an age related characteristic and there are socio-economic divides that are important to consider rather than assuming the battle ground is a generational one.  This does not mitigate against the need to open up for scrutiny the assumptions made in the budget about the support for young people and young familes.  Indeed the assumption seems to be that they will be automatically supported by the older generation or have less need for state support, assumptions that need to be scrutinized and unpacked.

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