23 January 2007

Measures To Assist Young People

Today, I am happy to be the guest blogger at the excellent Birmingham University Conservative Future blog. I thought it would be appropriate to do a brief post there on why young voters are Natural Tories.

On this theme here are few statistics to digest

- Young voters are the more likely than any other age group to feel that the tax burden is too high.
- Average student debt on graduation has increased from £2,212 in 1992 to £13,501 in 2005 and is predicted to reach £20,000 for entrants in 2005
- Am overwhelming majority of young people in the UK aspire to live abroad at some point.
- In spite of over a £1bn being spent to combat it school truancy figures are breaking new records.

To summarise, there is a growing divergence between youngsters who opt in and opt out of the education system. But even those who stay in the system must overcome great challenges. New graduates face massive and growing debt burden, spiralling living costs and high marginal taxes at low to medium income levels mean that it is a diminishing number of young workers who can actually realise the most basic and common aspiration of a decent job and full financial independence.

What Would This Tory Do?

Problem 1 - Housing Shortage

a) Managed Immigration and Deportation Of Illegal Aliens - this should be the usual state of affairs, but given this government's woeful record it would be a new policy.
b) Land Value Tax - this is known as land reform and encourages the efficient use of land. Where it has occurred (e.g. Ireland) there has been a significant rise in property ownership which is significantly correlated with social cohesion and lower crime levels. The quid pro quo is a reduction in other property taxes such as council tax.
c) Tax On Unused/Derelict Buildings - A key measure taken by Giuliani that helped to transform New York for the better.
d) A bonfire of building and planning regulations

Problem 2 - Student Debt

a) The target of 50% of the population going to university is arbitrary and misguided (there are not that many graduate jobs and at the other end of the spectrum the retirement age keeps being raised to support the public finances). Bin the target and let's get more youngsters working earlier.
b) The government should be more selective in which type of university courses receive central funding. I would be in favour of phasing in a voucher system based on the benefit to society of various courses.
c) Universities should be further exposed to market pressures. I hope that this would lead to innovative market solutions in the education market such as accelerated degree programmes/weekend courses/employer partnerships etc.

Problem 3 - Attacking Disincentives To Work

a) Simplify the range of available benefits. For example make no distinction between disability and unemployment benefits.
b) Combine the tax and benefits system so that marginal tax rates for low-paid workers are never excessive.
c) Set up a personal social fund so that you are rewarded for staying in the system.
d) Unemployment benefits should be a social insurance not a permanent featherbed. Enforce a lifetime upper limit on the receipt of benefits.
e) The black economy destroys legitimate businesses. Crack down on it.

Problem 4 - The Underclass

a) 20% of all school-leavers are illiterate. This is a scandal. A mixture of phonics techniques, punishing the parents of truants and intensive remedial teaching (if necessary during school holidays) for laggards should rectify this.
b) Provide facilities and free heroin for registered heroin addicts, thus pulling the rug out from dealers' incentive to get people hooked.
c) Crack and heroin dealing should be tried as attempted or actual murderers in the courts.
d) Consider the impact of families of all legislation. In particular, ensure the tax system discriminates to promote two-parent families.
e) Encourage small voluntary group initiatives in the community and provide support to help them roll out best practice initiatives.

That's all for now. Feel free to critique. What would you do to help young Brits thrive?


Guthrum said...

Blimey need to read this and comment when I have time

Praguetory said...

Apologies for the rushed post, just something I knocked together before breakfast.

mutleythedog said...

Encourage pet ownership amongst the young - especially dogs, as it reduces stress, shields against disease, discourages work absenteeism and a whole host of other benefits.
Link is here http://www.petclubuk.com/view/page.do?id=873

Citizen Andreas said...

Interesting post PT

The Housing shortage stuff seems pretty sensible to me. While I'm not sure a bonfire is in order for regulations, it's not uncommon for regulations to be misinterpreted or poorly enforced.

On student debt, the governments current policy seems fairly sound the key with the 50% target is that it isn't artificially forced. The government having introduced fees and the like can't be said to have engaged in that. I'm of the opinion that Universities needed the funding boost provided by top up fees.

Disincentives to work is a tricky one, simplifying is a nice idea, but often impractical. Combining benefits might mean that working out a single benfeit becomes more difficult. Marginal rates is also a problem, the system is currently set up to benefit families on low incomes. Reducing it would mean that either benefits persist well into high income levels or that families on low incomes suffer, it seems like a pretty stark choice either way.

Would comment on the others but I'm kind of short on time.

Guthrum said...

Problem 1 - Housing Shortage

Tax On Unused/Derelict Buildings – plus maintenance orders for minimum standards of up keep, you would be surprised how much derelict land/buildings are owned by the state/councils/MOD etc
A bonfire of building and planning regulations
Local elected Mayors

Problem 2 - Student Debt

No tuition fees, reinstate grants for poorer students. It is an investment in the future fore the State. All private charitable donations to Universities to be Tax deductible

Problem 3 - Attacking Disincentives To Work

The current benefit system is designed to keep the maximum amount of Civil Servants employed, not addressing the needs of the unemployed. Localise
Benefit offices and commence a root and branch review and ensure that NI contributions are personal unemployment insurance schemes.

Problem 4 - The Underclass

The underclass are a result of a circle of deprivation, the only way is to break that circle , so that it does not go to another generation. In days past the military was offered as an alternative to prison/punishment for social transgression. An alternative youth scheme that gets young people away from their families and the deprivation would be more cost effective than paying dole to sit around and by alcohol/drugs with the proceeds.

Speedy observations before I have to go out !

CityUnslicker said...

Tuition fees are a good idea. They make people think befor eembarking on serious study.

The debt thing is overdone, 10k of debt is what you spend on a car and most people get one of these.

If the degree is going to get you a good job then you should not worry, but if not.....

The rest of your points I am in broad agreement with.