Wednesday, October 4

George Osborne denies targeting young people and says cuts will be good for them



The Chancellor has denied “targeting” young people with cuts a day after wielding the axe against housing and education assistance for young people on low incomes.

George Osborne’s budget, delivered on Wednesday, excluded under-25s from a flagship living wage policy, banned them from claiming housing benefit, and scrapped grants for low-income students.

But Mr Osborne said his changes would be “good for them”, referring to young people.

“I don’t accept that we’re targeting young people – this is all about investing in apprenticeships and universities,” he told Sky News.

“I am saying – look, I’m sorry, you can’t come out of school, go straight onto benefits, claim housing benefits.

“That’s not what a working young person is able to do in the sense that they often have to stay at home while they build their career

“We are asking young people to earn or learn rather than live on benefits. I personally think that’s good for them, it’s certainly good for the country.”

He did not directly address the exclusion of young people from the new National Living Wage or the scrapping of student grants.

The Chancellor also announced on Wednesday that he would allow tuition fees to increase above £9,000 with inflation.

Student groups immediately called a national demonstration in the hours after the grant cut was announced.

 The National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts, which was active during the 2010 tuition fees protests, said it would march through London 4 November.

 “Students from lower income families are also those most put off by the notion of leaving education with a mountain of debt,” he said Tom Robinson, UCL Union Welfare & International Officer.

“We know that an overwhelming majority of students will never pay back their student debt; by its own logic the system of 9k fees has failed and it is utterly nonsensical that Osborne is planning to load students with more debt rather than admit this.”

Before the Budget the group said students would become “ungovernable” if fees went up again or conditions were further eroded.

Student grants go to those with a household income of less than £25,000. Mr Osborne said there was a “basic unfairness” in providing the assistance to people who could in future earn more than some others. The grants will be replaced with loans.