The United Kingdom is on the verge of being “permanently divided” as a nation with the poorest being left behind.
In a warning to us all the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has found that we are likely to face an “unprecedented” rise in child poverty over the next decade. The effect of welfare cuts and low pay bites have come home and there is “little prospect” of life improving for Britons in the near future.
This report comes on the heels of another from the forecasting group, EY Item Club, who have said that the economic growth of Britain would start to slow down this year.
The Commission, which is led by Alan Milburn, says that it shares the view of experts that 2020 will not mark the end of poverty amongst children; but will be the first time in recent years that the number will increase.
The report states “A decade of rising absolute poverty is unprecedented since records began in the 1960s,”
“There is a clear risk that the year 2020 will mark not just a failure to meet the Government’s legal obligation to have ended child poverty but could mark a permanent decoupling of earnings growth and economic growth at the bottom end of the labour market. 2020 could mark a watershed between an era in which for decades there have been rising living standards shared by all and a future era where rising living standards will bypass the poorest in society.” This is a massively worrying aspect of the report as it appears to indicate that there has been a failure to move the gauge in terms of wages. The living cost has increased and yet the pay scales has been left to lag far behind.
The portion of the report which lends to the deepest worry for the future however is as follows; “Social mobility, having flatlined in the latter part of the last century, would go into reverse in the first part of this century. The United Kingdom would become a permanently divided nation.”
Milburn has also warned that young workers are missing out on opportunities which their parents were presented with. He warns that not only will they be paid less; they will also be priced out of the housing market leading to a higher proportion of renters versus first time buyers.
Milburn told the Observer that those without the benefits of wealthy parents are condemned to languish on “the wrong side of the divide that is opening up in British society”. He went on to say “It is depressing. The current generation of young people are educated better and for longer than any previous one. But young people are losing out on jobs, earnings and housing.”
He continued when talking about young people ““This recession has been particularly hard on young people. The ratio of youth to adult unemployment rates was just over two to one in 1996, compared to just under three to one today. On any definition we are nowhere near the chancellor’s objective of “full employment” for young people. Young people are the losers in the recovery to date.
“Youth unemployment is still higher than before the recession and by the time of the next election around half a million young people will still be without work, enough to fill Wembley stadium five times over.
Milburn concluded this report with the ominous statement that “Urgent action is needed to prevent this generation of young people faring worse than their parents’ generation.” He also advised everyone to remember that “social mobility relies on young people having better opportunities to progress.” He also tried to make employers understand that “investment in the skills and employment of young people today is money saved in social security and the costs of poverty tomorrow.”
This new study appears to show what any recent graduate already knows. That it is a jungle out there. The jobs are harder to come by and the market is flooded with people who can do the job you are applying for already with much more experience. The market needs to change. Businesses need to understand that young people and young graduate will make up the future of the economy. They need to invest now or there might not be a job market for the next generation to get in to.