It’s Budget week – a time when political parties write out their wish lists to the Chancellor. It’s a bit like sending a Christmas letter to Santa, but instead of it going to a jolly old man in a red suit – it goes to a Tory old man with a red briefcase.
My letter was sent with nine of my SNP Westminster colleagues, and we urged the UK government to address the many problems young people are facing. The ten of us are all ‘millennials’, born after 1980, and it’s younger people that are being hit by a Tory triple whammy – the past decade of Tory austerity cuts, the Tory chaos over Brexit, and the UK government’s failure to address the wages and housing crisis.
Thanks to this Tory government, young people now face being the first generation in modern times to be worse off than their parents – with lower lifetime earnings, cuts to support, skyrocketing housing costs, and squeezed living standards.
So Philip Hammond, here’s my wish list.
Give young people a decent wage.
Rebranding a wage that people cannot live on as a ‘National Living Wage’ is deceptive at best, and sinister at worst. To add insult to injury, it only applies to people over the age of 25. Young people work just as hard as anyone else, and they have the same living costs. Pay them fairly.
End the ageist Housing Benefit policy.
As I said in my maiden speech in Parliament, I am the only young person, as a MP, that the Chancellor is prepared to help with housing. Why should people be refused Housing Benefit just because they’re under 21? Everyone deserves the right to a home.
Give young people a voice.
16 and 17-year-olds pay taxes, but can’t have a say in how they’re spent. Last year, 16 and 17 year olds voted in the Scottish Parliament elections for the first time. They should be able to vote in Westminster, too. Maybe then, the Tory government would start paying them some attention.
Protect our environment.
After Tory cuts, renewables in the UK face a ninety-five percent cut in investment. In fact, one in six renewables jobs in Scotland are under threat. We have a moral duty to do what we can to protect the environment for younger generations and this government must do more.