Today David Cameron announced under 25 year olds who are not ‘earning or learning’ face losing their jobseekers allowance. This has been triumphed by The Daily Express among others as ‘a return to True Blue values’. If these are true blue values, then I wholeheartedly hope the UK wants nothing to do with them.
This policy is a cynical attempt by David Cameron to frame the youth as being lazy and good-for-nothing in an attempt to appeal to his party’s core vote of older, conservative voters. He knows full well unemployed under 25 year olds are not going to vote Conservative anyway, so he has nothing to lose.
But it couldn’t be further from the truth. I am 20 years old myself, and had planned to go to University this year, but for personal and family reasons had to defer until next year. I want to stress I am not expressing pity for my situation, as I know I will be one of the people ‘learning’ next year. But I feel it is worth expressing here to show how simply unjust and untrue the claim that my generation are lazy and simply do not want to look for work is.
I have had four jobs since 2010 and have worked hard in all of them. My most recent job I only left as I had thought I was going to University before circumstances changed. I achieved A*AB in my A levels and I also have a Level 2 NVQ qualification in Retail. I am currently unemployed and I have lodged a claim for jobseeker’s allowance. Since doing this I have spent every day searching and applying for jobs and have either been turned down for the ones I have applied for or not heard back. I am a young person with ample work experience and good qualifications, how hard would it be for a person who only had GCSEs and experience in one job? Or even less than 5 GCSEs and no previous work experience.
I have many friends who have chosen not to go to college or decided it wasn’t for them or who have left with qualifications and are looking for work. Some are in employment now and some are not. However, none of them have chosen to live on the dole. The ones who did find employment took months to find it and some have been in insecure, low-hour work where they have often been left unpaid or without enough shifts.
Of course, the role of government should not be to allow a life on the dole. Everyone agrees with this. However, the role of government should definitely not be to unfairly stigmatise a group of society who already find it hard to find jobs which do not require previous experience of the workplace which they often don’t have. The youth I know is one of people desperate to find work and afraid of the stigma of being unemployed, and to withdraw any support from them is irresponsible and morally bankrupt. If Cameron truly wants to make a future Britain a ‘land of hope’ then he should treat our age group with some dignity and respect, and recognise we are the country’s future, and do not deserve to be treated in this way.