Last week was a big week in the UK as our Chancellor George Osborne revealed his "Emergency" Summer Budget which also happened to be the first majority Conservative government Budget for nearly ten years. While I should be sick to death of writing about this because it's something I covered at work, I am desperate to write about it and express my own personal opinions about it rather than attempt to be unbiased about what I think is an absolute disaster.
First of all the "National Living Wage." When I saw the headlines for this, I got so excited. Finally, the government is going to make employers obliged to pay employees wages that they can actually survive on. Of course, I should've known it was going to be an absolute sham. The National Living Wage will be introduced in April 2016 at £7.20 an hour....except the National Living Wage Foundation has calculated that people should be paid £7.85. Yep, you read that right, the National Living Wage will not actually be a living wage at all. To add insult to injury, this rate of pay will only be applicable to those aged 25 and over.
The idea that younger people deserve to be paid less irks me to no end. If you can leave home aged 16 to go and fend for yourself, then you should paid like someone who has to fend for themselves. Do young people just not work as hard as people over 25? What a ridiculous notion. I've worked in multiple places where I've seen teenagers work much, much harder than people more than twice their age.
Unfortunately, the age discrimination just doesn't stop there. The Tories have also decided that 18-21 year olds are no longer eligible for housing benefit. Yep, not only is this age category eligible for the so-called Living Wage, but they aren't getting any extra help to cover their housing costs either. Sure, they could just go live with their parents...but what about those who don't have parents? What about kids that have been kicked out because they dared to admit they're gay or trans or something?
If you're both young and poor, then I'm afraid I have even more bad news for you. Osborne is also planning to scrap university maintenance grants and replace them with yet more loans. If you come from a low income household, you now either can't go to university at all because it is simply too expensive or you will begin your adult life in absolutely unimaginable debt.
I feel so sorry for students who previously would've depended on a maintenance grant to get through university who are now having to go to work to survive during their education. Combined with the fact that the National Living Wage will not apply to most students who are usually aged 18-21, it's disastrous because they will have to work twice as hard to receive the money that those 25 and over will be earning. The thing is, the last thing you want to be doing during your university years in working round the clock; you need time to focus on your education (there's a LOT more to it than just attending lectures) and I am also firmly of the opinion that you must socialise and enjoy your time at university.
So, what about the other vulnerable people in society? What if you're disabled? Well, I'm afraid that George Osborne doesn't think you're worth you're benefits. Life saving funding that allows disabled people to live their lives is being slashed. People have already died underneath the ConDem government because of changes made to benefits - this can only get worse now.
Thing is, what has disgusted me almost as much as the Budget itself, is the REACTIONS to the Budget.
"Just because my parents earn over X amount of money it doesn't mean they pay me through university"
Yes, you're right, I agree. Thing is, you're telling people from poorer backgrounds to "borrow more money" or "get a job" - why don't you just do this yourself hmm? You also need to understand that by coming from a better financial background, you are automatically more privileged. You are already more likely to get a well paying job. You've likely never had to go hungry. You don't have to worry about things like the government taking hugely important grants away from you.
"Why should my taxes pay for someone else to live?"
I don't even know where to start with this attitude. Congratulations on being born into a life where you can work and look after yourself. Unfortunately, despite being able-bodied and of sound physical and mental health so you can work and look after yourself, you're still an absolute dick. This "I'm alright Jack" attitude absolutely disgusts me. It's so selfish and horrible.
"But we have to cut benefits to stop people abusing them. What about immigrants, scroungers etc?"
If you simply head over to Google, you will find countless pieces of research that proves that the idea of scroungers and benefit tourists is simply a myth. It's hard enough to get benefits when you actually need them, do you really believe people who don't deserve them are getting them too? Of course people slip through the cracks, but the vast majority of people receiving benefits absolutely deserve them.
As for immigrants: make your bloody minds up. Are they coming over here to take advantage of our welfare system or are they "stealing" all "our" jobs? They're not doing both! In truth, immigrants actually contribute far more to our economy than they take away.
Finally, if you stop all benefits for fear the system might be abused, then you're putting those that depends on benefits for survival at severe risk. Perhaps you don't care about those such as the disabled? Perhaps you think we should be weaning them out of society? Oh, wait, you know who else thought like that? HITLER.
I am not a perfect human being.
I admit, at times, I am incredibly selfish and my political views in the past have been not so great. Thing is, I've grown up. I've realised it's not all about me. As a society, we have to care about each other. Those who think the measures I've discussed above are good ideas clearly don't care about anyone besides themselves.
I'm not an economist, nor do I pretend to be, I definitely don't pretend to understand how the economy works. It might just be that George Osborne's plans will kickstart the UK economy, bring us out of recession and dramatically decrease the National Debt.
But do we really want to do that at the cost of people's lives?