The struggle of being a young person in the UK.

It no longer comes as a surprise to me that the government’s priorities do not lie with young people of the UK, especially not with university graduates. But the government’s plan of a national insurance rise to fund social care takes this thinking to a new low.

MPs have voted to raise employees’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs) by 1.25% which will raise approximately £12 billion per year to help fund the rising demand for social care. I want to start by emphasising this social care funding is extremely needed, and to me, it is almost ironic since it is young people who are struggling so much from its underfunding in the first place. The social care system in this country is in chaos. Many are vulnerable and left without food for days, and the number of suicides related to not receiving universal credit on time is catastrophic. So, why are those who need the benefits of social care the ones who are being targeted to fund it?

National Insurance is not paid by pensioners or landlords, meaning the young people of the UK are going to be hit the hardest. Despite Boris Johnson’s spokesman claiming this tax is the most “progressive and fair way to raise money”, it is an extremely unfair, regressive tax reform. This is a tax primarily on younger working people while the wealthy, older generations will remain almost completely untouched. The Chancellor explained “it is fair: the more you earn, the more you pay”, but that isn’t how this tax form actually works. For those earning over £50,000 per year, the national insurance tax drops to 2% which means those earning above this threshold will pay proportionally less of their income in tax. This will therefore further reduce the wages of the young but preserve the wealth of the old.

The struggles for young people in the UK are rife now, with pandemic job losses, soaring house prices, and expensive degrees being taught online without a price reduction. Over the past two decades, house prices rose by around 110% while average earnings by only 20%. While the older generations watch their wealth grow from increased house prices, the younger generations struggle to make enough income to match the increasing rent prices. So, how can the government see it as “fair” to increase a tax that will make the lives of younger people increasingly harder?

This regressive form of tax will be particularly damaging to those graduating from university with a student loan. Once graduates earn over the repayment threshold of £27,295, they will face marginal tax rates of 42.25% for the next 30 years, compared to the 33.32% for non-graduates. The government is also having discussions about lowering the repayment threshold of student loans to £23k which would only benefit the highest-earning graduates and students with higher incomes remain unaffected. The National Union of Students has deemed the deliberations as “simply astounding”. This would simply widen the gap between the working class and the wealthy. This further demonstrates the government’s lack of care and interest of young people in the UK, most specifically those with lower incomes.

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Lauren Bramwell

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November 2021
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