Jeremy Corbyn has dropped a truth bomb in just one sentence. And it shows one of the reasons why he is so popular with young people. He reacts with blistering common sense to the situation that they find themselves in.
Speaking about Labour’s commitment to increasing the Living Wage to £10 an hour for all people, Corbyn was asked whether it should apply to 16-year-olds. He replied:
Yes, the £10 an hour living wage, real living wage, is correct and also should apply to all workers, because I don’t think young people eat less than old people – that’s my experience anyway.
The Living Wage
Currently, the level of the Living Wage is determined by how old you are. Those over 25 receive £7.50 an hour. But this drops to £7.05 an hour for 21-24-year-olds, £5.60 for 18-20-year-olds, and just £4.05 for those under 18.
But the Living Wage Foundation, who calculate what “employees and their families need to live”, claim this figure should be higher. It says the real living wage is £8.45 an hour outside of London and £9.75 an hour in London.
The Living Wage Foundation also agrees that it should be paid to young people:
The rates apply to all workers over 18 – in recognition that young people face the same living costs as everyone else.
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A war on the young
But it’s not just wages that are skewed against young people, it’s the whole benefits system. For example, young people receive less Jobseekers Allowance, with those under 25 years receiving £57.90 a week, compared to £73.10 for those over 25.
But changes brought in by the Conservative government have made things even worse. It has severely restricted the amount and type of benefits young people can receive. For example, in March it brought in a new law that stated anyone under 21 who make a new claim for Jobseekers Allowance would no longer be entitled to housing benefit.
This is in addition to the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance, which gave students on lower incomes £30 a week to help them stay in education. And it is against a backdrop of an increase in tuition fees, to nearly £10k a year for some university students.
Valuing young people
The Conservative Party has treated young people with absolute disdain because they thought they could get away with it. But the general election proved that they can’t.
Corbyn, on the other hand, is valuing young people. He recognises the contribution they make and the hardships they face. And he is doing so with common sense. Living costs are the same whether you are old or young. Food costs the same. Rent costs the same. Basic utilities cost the same. And to suggest that young people can somehow survive on less than older people is a ridiculous fallacy.
Run for the hills, Theresa!
Young people have lived with Conservative or Coalition governments for most of their adult lives. And these governments have taken away their benefits, increased tuition fees, and destroyed their NHS. At the same time, young people have been priced out of the housing market and told they will likely work for longer than their parents, for less. And 38% of all zero hours contracts are held by those under 25.
The young now have a politician who is listening and fighting for them and their rights. And it is no wonder they are responding. It is shown in the voting turn-out. And it is also shown in the chants going around Glastonbury and the number of people wanting to hear him speak.
Politics has changed. The young are regaining their voice and fighting back. They have a Labour leader who is listening and responding to them with common sense. And it should make Theresa May and the Tories very worried indeed.
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