Government must support our young people

“As the loosening of lockdown restrictions continue, for many, aspects of ‘normality’ are returning,” writes MP Jon Trickett in his latest Express column.

Monday, 22nd June 2020, 12:38 pm

Going out for non-essential shopping and meeting friends outdoors in small groups will come as a welcome relief to many.

The latter will be a relief specifically to young people.

I was concerned to read recently that research by the Office for National Statistics found that people aged 16-24 were over twice as likely to have experienced loneliness in lockdown than those aged 55 to 69.

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This is a worrying development when added to the financial difficulties young people face due to Covid-19 and a decade of austerity.

Our country relies on young people - they are our future.

It is essential that they are treated better.

Even before Coronavirus, it was often said that young people were getting a raw deal.

Ten years of austerity has seen tuition fees increase, real wages fall, steep rents and house prices moving out of reach, leaving many young people living with their parents for longer.

With summer approaching, a huge number of young people will graduate from school, college and university, hoping to enter the world of work but face a shrinking job market.

Internships, apprenticeships and work experience programmes have all but disappeared.

The Resolution Foundation has said that the Coronavirus Crisis could increase youth unemployment across the UK by 600,000.

It is not just our workers of tomorrow facing an uncertain futures.

Many young people already in work risk unemployment.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that those aged under 25 are two and a half times more likely to be working in leisure, retail and hospitality sectors, many of which have had to shut down during the whole lockdown period.

I have previously called for a radical response to help local businesses hit financially by Coronavirus.

The same applies to supporting the next generation.

The Government must step in to ensure their life prospects aren’t irreversibly damaged because of Coronavirus.

We cannot have another huge transfer of wealth and power from working people to the richest in society, as we saw after the 2008 financial crisis.

We need massive investment in decent jobs, aiming for full employment, ensuring the wealthiest pay their fair share this time.

A wealth tax along with a clampdown on tax avoidance could go some way to sharing the burden of the crisis more equitably.

If we fail to do this, we consign millions of young people to the scrap heap, especially in northern post-industrial areas like ours, which have been hit by a triple whammy of crises:

There has been the decline in industry, austerity, and now Covid-19.

Whilst there may be debate about the best way to help young people, let’s be in no doubt; the Government must support them.