Brexit. Automation. Economic decline. Despite commentators like Robert Peston predicting a “boring” budget, this was never going to be boring…
More young people are voting than at any time in the last 25 years. In 2015, the split in support between Labour and the Conservatives from young people was fairly even: 36% to 32%. However, that gap widened dramatically during June’s now infamous general election.
Budget 2017 is considered a chance for the Conservative Party to win back the support of millennials who appear to be moving towards Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and thus further to the Left.
Philip Hammond said the Government was presenting a Budget that would focus on the long-term, putting “the next generation first” and helping make the UK “fit for the future”.
But what exactly does that mean? Here are the key developments…
1. Millenial Railcards: While 16-25 railcards will remain in use, a new one is being introduced for 26-to-30 year olds. This ‘millennial railcard’ will cost £30 a year, discounts will not be available on the purchase of season tickets and it is due to launch in 2018.
2. Housing: An extra £44 billion in investment to boost house-building to 300,000 a year in an effort to help young people buy their own homes.
Also, stamp duty for first-time buyers has been abolished – although as commentators have pointed out on Twitter, “abolishing stamp duty on first time buyers should save £5k for those buying homes worth £300k.” (@TomTugendhat)
3. Education: More Maths for everyone! £177 million in education to promote Maths skills, including a plan to channel £600 to schools for every new student who takes a Maths A-level and £42 million under a new scheme that will see every teacher in select schools receive £1,000 worth of training.
4. Wages: The National Living Wage will rise from £7.50 to £7.83 for those aged 25 and over from April 2018.
5. Booze: An increase duty on high-strength, low-quality alcohol from 2019; but duties on other ciders, wines, spirits and on beer will be frozen.
“Merry Christmas” cheered Hammond as he announced this policy to Tory applause.
Hammond delivered his Budget with more jokes peppered in than usual, including a rather pantomime-inspired reminder of Theresa May’s horrific Conference speech in Manchester in which she burst into a coughing fit midway through.
Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile, attacked the Budget with a passion and ferocity rarely seen in modern politics. Corbyn attacked the Government’s records of child poverty, wealth inequality, economic decline, wage stagnation, gutted public services and rising homelessness.
The opposite bench were not impressed and certainly did not stay quiet, as they are supposed to, during Corbyn’s attack.
According to the Resolution Foundation, millennials are the first generation in modern times to be worse off than their parents.
Whatever you make of Hammond’s Budget, the above certainly suggests that some kind of Government intervention is required if we are to fix our broken economy and help raise the life chances of young people.
Too radical? Not radical enough? A step in the right or direction? Or a plaster over a terminal brain tumour? Only time will tell…