Gordon Brown wants £3 billion for the ‘austerity generation’. But the UK needs a more enduring solution

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Former prime minister Gordon Brown has called for a rescue plan for some of the UK’s most vulnerable young people. There are, he said, 3.4 million children born after 2010 who are in poverty and whose development has been affected by the austerity policies of Conservative-led governments.

The interventions he recommends include an expanded Sure Start programme in partnership with foundations and corporate investors, support for unemployed and low-paid people to find higher-paid jobs and an extension to the government’s household support fund that is set to end in October.

It’s true there is a cohort of young people who haven’t had the forms of support that existed before austerity. It is also true that they need government support to avoid falling into, or being unable to escape, serious social issues like poverty and ill health. There is an intuitive case to be made for early years interventions like Sure Start, more effective employment support and emergency funding for people facing destitution.

But the lesson we should take from the austerity years is that these kinds of piecemeal, ad hoc measures are extremely vulnerable when the government inevitably changes and any progress is, consequently, easily reversed. This is because targeted spending to help a relatively small proportion of the population often breeds resentment. Our research shows it can even result in the beneficiaries being framed as an undeserving out-group by hostile politicians and media.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation Trust
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2024

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion keywords

  • Reduced Inequalities

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