Roger Truelove: Young people should vote, and politicians need to listen

Roger Truelove, pictured with Guy Nicholson

Roger Truelove, pictured with Guy Nicholson

I am writing to beg young people to ignore that well known exhibitionist, Russell Brand, and his anarchic call to 18-30 year olds not to vote.

Politicians of all parties must address the growing crises facing young people but they are much more likely to do so if you use your vote.

There are over 1 million young people unemployed in this country. Across Kent over 40% of unemployed people are aged 18-30. In Swale the rate of unemployment amongst 18-24 year olds is 8.1%, well above the National average of 5.8%. Levels of unemployment are in the top 20% for Kent in most of Sheppey and in the urban part of Sittingbourne.

Youth unemployment is not a new problem. It stretches back over a number of governments, it is a problem in many countries and it is set to get worse. Even so, it is a great pity that the Coalition Government cancelled the Future Jobs Fund, something that has later been shown to have been a great success, actually helping the economy by over £7000 per client. It is also a great shame that so many older teenagers are now not in full time education, because of the abolition of Education Maintenance Allowances.

Where young people do get jobs, they are often on minimum wages and zero hours contracts. The average income of people in their 20s is falling annually by about 6%.

So, of course, there is also a crisis in housing. The average age of first time buyers is now 37 years of age and it is going up, year by year. There are nearly 4 million young people being forced to live with their parents. On top of this, of course, the average student debt is now £53,000.

It is not difficult for someone to make the case for political cynicism. Many young people voted Liberal Democrat at the last election in the belief that student tuition fees would be abolished. They were severely let down by Mr Clegg.

There are many long term problems facing whoever is in government over the next 20 years. There is the challenge of caring for an ageing population. There are the continuing debates about our transport system, whether about High Speed trains or new airport capacity.However we need to put the crisis facing our young people at the top of the agenda too. Politicians must not ignore this, but young people must not listen to the calls of despair and the attempt to make not voting into a fashionable thing to do.

Cllr. Roger Truelove is Borough Councillor for Chalkwell Ward, KCC Member for Swale Central, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group on Kent County Council and Labour Spokesman on Economic Policy in Swale.

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