Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 6th August 2012

When the organisers of the London Olympics declared their hope that the Games would inspire a generation they couldn’t have known just how well Team GB would go on to perform. Their achievements are remarkable but we cannot forget that inspiration alone isn’t enough, young people also need opportunities if they are to succeed.

Many of those the same age as our athletes are trapped in a cycle of unemployment. During a single year youth unemployment in Crawley has risen 200% which, along with education cuts and the trebling of university fees, means many kids are now left behind at the first hurdle. At the election the Tories said it was wrong for the next generation to have to pay our debts, the reality is that they already are.

I believe pensioners want their grandkids to have the best start they can in life, just as young people want their grandparents to have the care they deserve in old age. We’re a single community, but the Government is forcing us to choose between letting down one age group or another. More cuts aren’t the answer, what we need is economic growth.

The problem is the Conservatives have never had a policy for growing the economy, they believe making the state smaller will automatically result in private sector growth. Yet after two years of cuts the economy isn’t moving.

Obvious opportunities are often missed. Early on the Government cancelled funding for World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s Institute for Web Science, missing the chance to keep the UK economy at the forefront of emerging technology.

While implementing Labour’s Real Job Guarantee would provide a paid six-month job for everyone aged 18 to 24 through a £2bn tax on bank bonuses. This would allow the banks which profited in the good times to give something back in the bad and help young people to gain the real world experience they need for permanent employment.

We’re rightly ambitious for Britain’s youth, but if young people in the UK are to succeed we need a Government that does more than simply hope for the best.

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