This budget is on the whole, safe. It is the budget of a party preoccupied with Brexit, which lacks the capacity to undertake serious game-changing initiatives in domestic policy. The unfortunate news is that for young people and students, a game-change in Britain is sorely needed. The problems facing students and young people in Britain are well documented, job opportunities are densely packed into three or four core cities, however soaring rents and house prices mean these opportunities can’t be seized by the debt-straddled students coming out of our universities. That being said, this budget does still offer some things to young people, in a clear attempt to recapture the youth vote which Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party commanded at the last general election.
Potentially the most explicit appeal to young people, the age of which young people can purchase rail cards has been raised from 16-25 to 16-30. This is potentially the biggest missed opportunity for the government. They clearly recognise that commuting costs and travel costs are murdering the wallets and purses of our young people, so instead of reducing the cost of these rail cards or straight up making them free, they simply change the age group of “young people”? It’s the kind of half commitment that will cause young people to raise a sceptical eyebrow, creating a deafening silence where the Conservative party were hoping to hear cheers.
Changes in Stamp Duty
Effectively, this change removes the tax of stamp duty on those trying to buy a home for the first time, so long as this home is worth less than £300,000. It’s a positive step, however it by no means solves the housing crisis for young people. This is a help, but not a solution. House prices continue to rise and young people paying extortionate rents can’t be expected to save up the deposit for these homes.
The Income Tax Threshold
The income tax threshold has again been raised, meaning those on lower incomes will pay less tax, this will marginally benefit young people with their first jobs, however this is a minor commitment.
The National Minimum Wage Increase
The minimum wage is set to increase for those aged-over 25, however this increase still falls short of the actual Living Wage set out by the National Living Wage Foundation. And for the majority of students coming out of universities, with potentially the same rent commitments as those aged over 25, they will so increase in wages.
All in all, this budget fails to capture the imaginations of Britain’s youth, who at this point must feel let down by the government which in its lifetime have made university more expensive, watched over an urban crisis which has left rents and homes more expensive than they ever have been, and has continually failed to provide opportunities for young people who have done the right thing and pursued an education, yet are seeing no reward for their efforts.