As a young worker, I was saddened but not surprised to read your article on 22nd of August (‘Fears of a ‘Lost Generation’ in the Borough).
Nationally, there are over one million unemployed young people, ten’s of thousands of whom have been out of work for more than a year. This does not include the millions more trapped in part time work, or full time work that is so low paid they have rely on state benefits in order to survive. Even worse, this does not include those working for parasitic ’employment agencies’, whose terms and conditions and minimal pay make working so precarious that it can be as bad as being unemployed.
There was not a mass outbreak of laziness among young people 4 years ago. There was not some natural disaster that threw millions out work, and slashed the pay of millions of others. It was not an act of god which tripled tuition fees, cut courses and university places, and slashed funding to colleges and youth services.
In reality, young people are caught in a vice; on the one hand, massive, unprecedented and cruel government cuts, on the other the refusal of big business to invest in decent jobs and opportunities for young people. Both of these are a result of the banking crisis, caused, as we all know, by the greed and arrogance of the big bankers and market speculators (and their New Labour, Tory and Liberal friends in government) who gambled away our future, then demanded we pick up the tab.
Labour assembly member Dr Sahota is correct to say young people need to be given opportunities. But what is his party saying that is different to the conservatives? That we need to cut, but more slowly?
In Hillingdon, the council has sacked hundreds of workers, closed down the Connexions youth service, cut the budgets of many service and continues to privatise the rest, in the name of ‘financial responsibility’. This is despite their £17 million reserves. In return, they have created a few apprenticeships, on £90 a week, with no guaranteed job at the end.
What has Hillingdon Labour said or done in response? Nothing. Not one councillor has publicly voted against cuts, or proposed an alternative budget to provide opportunities for young people. They have not even called a public meeting to explain their position.
Socialist Party members like myself, and my colleagues in Hillingdon Against Cuts, as well as Trade Unionists across the borough, say that instead of cutting, the Council should be investing in a future for young people.
They could be creating jobs by building public housing and refurbishing the current stock in the borough, to alleviate the growing housing crisis and take people out the hands of greedy private landlords.
They could restore EMA in Hillingdon, which would take pressure of struggling families and allow their children to attend college.
They could restore and extend funding to youth services, to get young people of the streets and support them in their search for work.
Nationally, we are calling for an immediate end to the cuts, which have driven the country into a double dip recession, just to prop up the ailing banks.
Instead we say, the banks should be nationalised under the control of the working class, and their vast resources used to rebuild the economy.
Further, the £750 billion that big business is hoarding (quite apart from the £13 TRILLION hidden of shore) should be levied, and used for socially useful projects.
This crisis is a crisis of Capitalism, the system of greed and exploitation, where the workers pay for everything, then get the blame when it goes wrong.
Workers, the unemployed, students, young and old, need to come together to end this mad system, and build a new, Socialist future for Britain and the world, a system based on peace and democracy, where we can use the vast resources of the world to build a decent future for all.
If these measures are not taken, the future for young people in Hillingdon is bleak indeed, and we will see not hundreds, but thousands and thousands of young people out of work, out of education, destitute and desperate.
Ian Harris, Branch Secretary Hillingdon Socialist Party.