Three local young people met with Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger before Christmas to seek his views on discrimination against young people in work, on benefits and generally, and were shocked by his apparent lack of understanding of the problems faced by young people trying to find work and somewhere to live. This is part of an ongoing campaign for rights for young workers, organised by Bridgwater Labour Party and local trades unions
One of the issues raised with Mr Liddell-Grainger was lack of affordable housing. The average private rent in Bridgwater is between £475 pcm and £695pcm for a 2 bedroom. Mr Liddell-Grainger responded that house prices in Bridgwater are generally lower, so a place to live is within most people’s reach. Does he really believe that young people on a living wage or with temporary or zero-hour work contracts can maintain a roof over their heads and afford the basics?
Age Discrimination in Wages
Age discrimination in wages, whereby people under 25 are paid less for doing the same job as older colleagues was also discussed, along with the harassment and bullying many young people report having to face at work.
Liddell-Grainger claimed that Universal Credit does not cause problems in this area! He said “. Universal Credit has been here over 18 months and we now have no problems with it”. He claimed to have already sorted out the majority of issues with universal credit, and claimed that it is now no longer a problem in Bridgwater.
Branch Secretary ‘disappointed’
Gary Tucker, Bridgwater Labour Party Branch Secretary said: “We are disappointed, but not surprised by the sitting MP’s lack of interest in the problems that affect his younger constituents. His casual dismissal and refusal to entertain the concerns of our bright upcoming young people is what we have come to expect from an MP who is more concerned with feuding with the local police force: perhaps if our young people were concerned about his gun licence he might have sat up and paid attention! The Labour Party is now and will always be a friend to those on the lowest rungs of our society. We stand ready to serve and improve our local community.”
The general feeling of the 3-young people who attended the meeting is that Mr Liddell-Grainger does not care about the young people in his constituency. He was unable to understand a lot of the issues that were raised during the meeting. He claimed he would back the campaign and that young people have his support, but did he really understand the issues?
Young people find MP ‘Dismissive’
One of the young people who met the MP said: “On the whole I found him very dismissive. He cut us off a lot and tended to brush off any points that we made. It was definitely worth meeting with our local MP, because it showed us that he doesn’t really care about the youth of our community. I found that Mr Liddell-Grainger tended to dismiss our points because he felt that these issues don’t affect Bridgwater. However, his dismissive response will not stop me in the fight for better rights at work for young people. Our campaign will continue.”
Another said: “I felt as if he was surprised to have young people come in and see him! He seemed to suggest that they weren’t huge problems in the constituency, although there clearly are.”
“Overall the meeting with Liddell-Grainger was interesting and has shown us that our MP just doesn’t care. We left a letter with Liddell-Grainger and we are awaiting a response. The youth right’s campaign will continue to run with a workshop for young people in February.”