Esther McVey just insulted everyone in austerity-ravaged Britain

Esther McVey
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Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey just insulted millions more people.

The damage she’s wrought through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for millions of sick and disabled people is bad enough. But her latest ‘initiative’ is a further insult to millions battling to cope with eight years of Tory-led austerity.

Really, Esther?

McVey’s currently rallying support for the latest DWP initiative to encourage young people to get summer jobs:

Read on...

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Really, Esther?

According to McVey, the number of young people with Saturday or summer jobs has fallen by around 60% since the 1980s. She also helpfully pointed out that employers want experienced workers. No shit.

What McVey completely fails to mention is the soaring rise of insecure, zero-hours jobs; or that most ‘temporary jobs’ are the only employment option for millions of skilled and experienced adults.

And it’s not as if young people don’t want jobs, or don’t look for them. In fact, they need them more than ever.

“Pisspoor”

The reaction to McVey on Twitter was swift and accurate.

Many pointed out how difficult it is to find ‘summer jobs’ in Tory Britain:

Some pointed out that Tory claims about rising employment are skewed and inaccurate:

And then there’s the ever-rising pension age. This also means that “there are now more than 10 million over-50s in work – double the 1990s number and accounting for almost a third of the overall UK workforce”.

And beyond this, McVey completely fails to acknowledge the devastating plight of young people who’ve grown up under austerity.

Young people

Young working people often face exploitation:

Young people are running out of options.

Those who continue in education will also be left more than £50,000 in debt.

Under the Tories, funding for apprenticeships has hit an all-time low. In April 2017, it launched the apprenticeship levy. But although designed to create three million new apprentices by 2020, the scheme has been widely criticised. And there’s now a drop in young people on apprenticeships. The impact of this is reflected in a critical 20% rise in 16-year-olds classed as NEET – not in employment, education or training.

Benefit changes in March 2017 removed housing benefit entitlement for 18-to-21-year-olds. So not working isn’t an option for most young people – not least because families are also struggling under slashed benefits and Universal Credit. But where are the jobs?

Under the Conservatives, spending on mental health services for young people has been cut by nearly £50m. And as the 2017 Youth Index report [pdf, p5] also revealed, “many young people feel that they have no control over their lives, are full of self-doubt and feel trapped by their circumstances”.

So the very last thing young people need is McVey’s patronising ‘advice’.

There is another way

Labour’s manifesto planned to end tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants. This was seen as one of the key reasons for the surge to Labour from voters aged 18-34 in the last election. Both Labour and the Green Party manifestos pledge to end exploitative zero-hours contracts and to push for a decent living wage. And both parties promised significant policies to help young people.

McVey’s ‘initiative’ is damaging and insulting to pretty much everyone. So too are the policies of this Tory government, and it’s time for change.

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