Ben Dean-Titterrell gives us his opinion on a lack of attention given to students in the Government’s budget announcement
On Wednesday the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, presented to the House of Commons his Budget, setting out the Government’s tax and spending plans for the next year.
His speech, and the budget document itself, covered a wide range of topics, but one barely mentioned issue was young people.
In his speech to the Commons the Chancellor did not mention students once and introduced only two policies specifically for young people: one on stamp duty for first-time home buyers and the other on rail fares.
The Chancellor spoke at length towards the end of his speech about the need to make it easier for young people to buy a house for the first time, announcing that first time buyers would not have to pay any stamp duty on the purchase of their first property up to the cost of £300,000.
He also announced a new railcard that he said would help 4.5 million young people save a third on rail fares, specifically for people aged 26-30.
Not included in the speech, but found in the Treasury’s Budget documents published online, was an announcement that the Student Loans Company and HMRC would update their processes by April 2019 to deal with the problem of graduates still being charged after paying off their student loans.
“In his speech to the Commons the Chancellor did not mention students once …”
In his reply to the Chancellor’s Budget, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, said he welcomed the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers as it was, he claimed, originally a Labour policy.
The Labour leader also pointed to the Government’s commitment to keep the £9,250 tuition fee limit, which he said was contributing to young people leaving university with £57,000 of debt to their names.
With evidence showing Labour received more than half the youth vote among voters in the age group of 18 to 39 in the 2017 general election, many will be asking why the Chancellor did not present more of an offering to young people and students in his Budget. Young people are thought to have voted at higher rates in the last election than they had for some time, with the Conservatives weary about Labour’s strength in this demographic.
What appears clear from this Budget is that the Conservatives have done little to start any kind of significant shift in young people’s’ voting intentions in their favour. Labour, meanwhile, will sit happy in the knowledge that young people still see them presenting a far more attractive prospect than the Tories. If the Chancellor was looking for a magic bullet to win over young voters, he did not find it in this Budget.