Tomorrow is B-Day.
Not Birth Day, but Budget Day.
Think of it like an school report on the State of the Economy, delivered by the Chancellor, telling us how well (or badly) the country is doing. It’s a chance to hear what the Government intends to do with our money, whether it wants more or might give some back. But most of all, it’s their chance to tell us their priorities, to set a vision, and to indicate the direction they intend to go and how they intend to get there.
Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of comment in the media about issues such as the 50p tax rate, mansion taxes and road pricing to name but a few. Most of these issues have been floated to see how people (especially the media) respond and allow people to make the arguments for and against their favourite policy. I haven’t heard too many I like.
But don’t expect many surprises
The Budget is important to us all. Whether you’re rich or unemployed, are dating, or a stay at home Dad, the Budget dictates how much money you have, either after tax, or after benefits. But for us, Millennials (/Generation Y / New Victorians / those generally born late 1970s to early 1990s), the budget will mean something different. Retirement age, pensions, re-training policies, and school-building programmes are all a bit intangible; the sort of things our parents are worrying about. For us, we have our own problems, and our own priorities. Here are some of what I’m hoping for, and maybe you are too:
What do I need from a Budget?
I need a vision that gives me hope for our future. Where we can contribute and be productive, have a roof over our heads and an opportunity to develop our potential. In essence we need hope.
Jobs & Skills
We need jobs, not promises of jobs, but actual jobs. Unemployment amongst 16-24 year olds has risen by 50% in the past ten years. The current unemployment rate is 1.04 million. We need training opportunities to help us get there. Many of us are unable to start our careers. The longer we wait, the larger the pool of people waiting to get started.
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We need to create jobs outside of London. The more jobs there are in London, the greater the pressure on infrastructure, housing, services in the city. If you choose to commute in, then your quality of life diminishes as the length of your commute increases. Roads are full, trains are overflowing, rent prices are sky-high. It feels like time to leave this town.
Flexibility in Careers
Whilst our parents are working longer, the opportunities to progress up the career ladder occur less frequently whilst we wait for them to retire. This is a pattern which is only going to increase. With large numbers of people unemployed, shouldn’t my Government create an environment to pilot the four day working week, giving people a better work-life balance and an opportunity to volunteer in the local community? The downside is lower salaries… (Can we free ourselves from materialism?)
Our generation is the first generation that will not have a higher standard of living than our parents. The number of 16-24 who own their own homes is now 14% – down from 26% in 1991. Is the UK going to be more like Europe as people rent for longer? Can additional part-buy/part-rent housing stock be built? Is anyone actually thinking about it?! I mean, properly?
Many of us are making the choice between families and work, increasingly so because of money. My friends are staying home because they can’t afford child care places, and leaving baby with friends or family is increasingly a mine-field. As most of us begin to age – and some get families – working grandparents and increasing bureaucracy will be a growing bug bear if we don’t find imaginative ways to fix this soon.
Lower Taxes, somewhere
It’s well documented that Millennials have high expectations about what they can achieve in life, but everywhere I look there is a tax between me and a self-made solution to my financial problems. Petrol prices stop me getting to work; national insurance costs stop me getting hired (or hiring); airport taxes stop me doing business overseas; stamp duty stop me buying a house; VAT stop me buying clothes, bicycles, and office furniture to either get a job, get to a job, or create my own job.
We wont be the first to want more for less, but it does feel like it’s time for a break. And I mean for us, not for just for everyone else.
A Long Wishlist.
There are lots of other things that are needed; justice, whether between the generations or between rich and poor; stronger communities; an education where my children will read and write. But these will take wider Government action.
So that’s my wishlist? What’s yours?