An open letter to the coalition government – by Victor Brown-Villedieu


After seeing my article on The Guardian responding to Esther McVey’s “unemployed young people could just get a job as Costa” comments, politics grad and budding journalist Victor Brown-Villedieu came up with a few recommendations for the coalition government…

Dear wise and honourable leaders,

The recent news that more than 3 million young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 were still living with their parents in 2013 will have come as little surprise to those of us who make up this extraordinary number. What would have come as a surprise was that the number wasn’t even higher, as this figure still only accounts for 26% of 20-34s, as I’m sure you know.

Compare that with the contrasting figures on UK unemployment – down 167,000 in the three months to November – and you have somewhat of a paradoxical situation. Well done on that, by the way. Clearly higher employment rates are a positive for the individuals concerned but, call me cynical, the numbers don’t quite stack up. I mean, wouldn’t more people in employment mean a regular income and eventually lead to fewer young adults living with their parents? The answer should be yes but, unfortunately, it’s not. Now I’m no George Osborne but that doesn’t sound right. It seems we’re now in a bit of a mess.

Here’s a not-so-comprehensive list of where I think you’ve gone wrong lads and ladies:

– Fewer jobs overall due to a poorly performing economy over the last few years (silly, silly Labour)

– Fewer entry-level jobs for recent graduates and school leavers

– Exploitative practices from an innumerable amount of companies meaning young adults are used as free labour and expected to put up with it because it’s ‘valuable experience’

– Lack of affordable housing/no efforts to build new houses

– Ridiculously overpriced rents charged by landlords who are laughing all the way to the bank

– And, an unbalanced job market, with a cluster of oversubscribed jobs in London and the southeast and virtually nothing in most of the rest of the country

Have I missed anything? Oh yes, and a government who’s not really bothered about changing any of that.

Now, I hope you’ll excuse my impertinence but I have an easy three-step plan to help you fix the above problems if you’d care to read them. They are as follows:

Begin by actually making sure all companies are paying the minimum wage (remember an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work? Yea, I thought I’d heard that somewhere). And once you’re done doing that, quickly enact a law requiring companies to pay a living wage.
Start building houses. Seems to me that if we can find the money to fund a £50 billion vanity project in the shape of HS2, a few measly houses could be built. Not much to ask is it, George? And if private companies are waiting to build on land they’ve bought in the hope the land value will increase, force them to build or buy it back off them. In other words, stop them being greedy bastards.
Introduce rent control. The tired rhetoric of politicians claiming a false sense of anger at high rents is all well and good but the idea an unregulated sector will fix itself is laughable.
That should just about do it.

Yours sincerely,

Every last one of us

P.S. Maybe while you’re at it you could stop vilifying the unemployed too. I’ve long since grown tired of the Conservative bile in relation to those out of work. ‘Let’s make work pay by not actually paying a decent wage and, while we’re at it, let’s resign another generation of people to a life of destitution by dismantling the welfare system.’

I don’t want to sound rude but, unfortunately, too many people have bought into your ‘let’s blame the poor and the foreigners for all of society’s ills’ argument. Scapegoating is a useful technique to use when things aren’t going great but it doesn’t solve the underlying problems in the long run. So how about leaving the vicious sniping to UKIP, yea?

Follow Victor on Twitter @vbrownvilledieu or on his blog

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