UK Government told to ‘end age discrimination’ in minimum wage rates

From Welfare Weekly: The SNP has called on the UK government to “end age discrimination” in minimum wage rates at the Budget.

David Linden, one of the youngest MPs at Westminster, has written to the Chancellor demanding the UK government “stop discriminating against young people” and change the law to ensure that all workers are entitled to a real Living Wage – currently £8.75 in Scotland, £10.20 in London.

Under current UK legislation, younger workers can be discriminated against with lower wages, despite doing the same job.

Since 1st April 2018, workers over the age of 25 are entitled to a minimum wage of at least £7.83 an hour, while those aged 21 to 24 are only entitled to £7.38 an hour, those aged 18 to 20 only £5.90 an hour, those under 18 just £4.20 an hour, and apprentices can be paid as little as £3.70 an hour.

The 28-year-old SNP MP for Glasgow East, who left school at the age of 16 to work as an apprentice, said the UK government had “failed younger people” by refusing to change the law – leaving younger workers thousands of pounds a year worse off.

David Linden said: “Millions of families across the UK have suffered from falling wages and squeezed incomes under the past decade of Tory austerity – but younger workers have also faced discriminatory minimum wages rates, meaning they can legally be paid less for doing the same job.”

Teacher crisis hits London as nearly half quit within five years

From The Guardian: London schools are in the throes of a growing crisis in teacher retention, with figures revealing that more than four out of 10 quit the profession within five years of qualifying.

Schools across England say they are struggling to recruit and retain staff, but the problem is most acute in inner London where just 57% of teachers who qualified in 2012 were still working in the classroom by 2017.

According to new analysis of government figures by Labour MP Matthew Pennycook, of the 35,000 newly qualified teachers (NQTs) who started teaching in the capital since the Conservatives took power in 2010, more than 11,000 have already left.

Retention rates have deteriorated year on year since 2011. More than a quarter of teachers recruited to London schools in 2015 had already left the classroom by November 2017 and over a third of new London teachers now leave within four years.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Sixth form and Further Education funding has fallen by a fifth since 2010, says IFS

From The Guardian: Funding for school sixth formers has fallen by more than a fifth in the past eight years amid declining investment in post-16 education, according to an authoritative study.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report said funding for sixth form and further education (FE) students has been been cut “much more sharply” than any other area of education, with spending per sixth form student down 21% since its peak in 2010.

FE has also been hard hit, with an 8% cut in real terms since 2010/11 – and from a lower base than sixth forms – resulting in course closures, job losses and cuts to student support services. There are also concerns about the capacity of the FE system to deliver government reforms in the absence of additional funding.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

What are the effects of child poverty?

From The Children’s Society: We know that poverty has a devastating impact on children’s lives.

It can lead to children missing out on decent meals, sleeping in cold bedrooms and being bullied at school, as well as drastically reducing their future life chances.

Children living in poverty are more likely to:
– Have poor physical health
– Experience mental health problems
– Have a low sense of well-being
– Underachieve at school
– Have employment difficulties in adult life
– Experience social deprivation
– Feel unsafe
– Experience stigma and bullying at school.

Children living in poverty are more likely to feel like a failure, and have a sense of hopeless about their future than their more affluent peers. And they have a more significant risk of developing mental health problems.

Cash-strapped Bournemouth school scraps hot meals

From BBC News: A head teacher has told parents her school can no longer afford to provide a hot school meals service because of budgetary pressures.

Emma Rawson, headteacher at Stourfield Junior School in Southbourne, said funding pressures meant the school could no longer afford the staffing costs of more than £20,000 per year.

She said she was “frustrated” because some pupils relied on those hot meals.

The Department for Education requires all schools to serve hot or cold meals.

The school said it would provide cold packed lunches for those children eligible for free school meals. All other pupils would be required to bring their own food to school.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

Creative subjects being squeezed, say schools

From BBC News: Creative arts subjects are being cut back in many secondary schools in England, a BBC survey suggests.

More than 1,200 schools responded – over 40% of secondary schools.

Of the schools that responded, nine in every 10 said they had cut back on lesson time, staff or facilities in at least one creative arts subject.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

Theresa May Revives Grammar Schools Plan With £50m Boost

From HuffPost UK: Theresa May has prompted anger after reviving her flagship policy to expand grammar schools by handing them £50 million to increase places.

Lifting the ban on creating new grammar schools was a key part of last year’s Conservative manifesto – but the proposals were dropped in the wake of May’s election humiliation.

Under fresh plans by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, however, tens of millions of pounds are to be pumped into creating more places at selective state schools.

The controversial move comes just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility said the cost for a planned 1% pay rise for teachers could only be met by heads “squeezing non-pay spending and by reducing the workforce”.

A poll by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) in March also showed more than a third of school heads have already cut teachers or teaching hours due to the Tories’ funding squeeze.

School leaders, unions and the Labour Party have lined up to slam the decision to resurrect “the grammar school corpse” with “scarce” new money, claiming the model stoked inequality.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

These statistics show the true cost of the Tory housing crisis for young people

From Left Foot Forward: Figures on the state of the home ownership market in England, published by the Office of National Statistics, reveal rapidly worsening affordability problems, putting buying a home beyond most young people.

The affordability ratio calculated by ONS shows that the average house price was 7.9 times average annual earnings in 2017 – the largest ever recorded and more than double that of 1997.

To achieve levels of affordability last seen two decades ago – the average house price in 1997 being 3.5 times average earnings – would require that today’s average earnings would need to double to almost £66,000 annually.

Put another way, average earnings would have to increase by around 3% every year for the next four decades, while the average house price stayed constant at today’s level, for 1997 levels of affordability to be reached once more.

[Read full article on Left Foot Forward…]

Rise in knife crime shines spotlight on youth services cuts

From YMCA: Youth services have become the ‘go to’ budget for cuts as local authorities do not recognise the long-term benefits to young people, YMCA has warned, after an analysis shows spending across these services in England and Wales has fallen by 61% over the past six years.

YMCA England & Wales, which supports 33,560 young people through youth work and youth services every year, today released its analysis of local authority spending on youth services, revealing it had reduced by more than £750m since 2010/11 across England and Wales.

Young people in the West Midlands and the North West have been among the hardest hit, with local authorities in the West Midlands cutting spending by 71% since 2010/11, while the North West saw cuts of 68%. Local authorities in London, which have faced criticism following the rise in recent knife crime among young people, have cut spending on youth services by 59% since 2010/11.

[Read full article on YMCA website…]

One in 12 young people are working in zero-hours jobs

From Morning Star: Zero-hours contracts have risen to nearly two million in Britain, with one in 12 young people working uncertain hours.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the figures, published today, increased from 1.7m to 1.8m in the year to last November and represents 6 per cent of all contracts.

Of these, the ONS has reported, 901,000 workers are on zero-hours contracts as some are forced to work more than one.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Most people are not on zero-hours contracts by choice. They want the same rights, security and guaranteed hours as other employees.

“More than half of zero-hours contract workers have had jobs cancelled with less than a day’s notice. Zero-hours contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour and the government should ban them.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Young Britons have never been unhappier, research suggests

From The Guardian: Young people’s happiness across every single area of their lives has never been lower, research by the Prince’s Trust has found.

The charity said the results of its annual UK Youth Index, which gauges young people’s happiness and confidence across a range of areas, from working life to mental and physical health, should “ring alarm bells”.

The national survey shows young people’s wellbeing has fallen over the last 12 months and is at its lowest level since the study was first commissioned in 2009. 

The research, based on a survey of 2,194 respondents aged 16 to 25, revealed that three out of five young people regularly feel stressed amid concerns over jobs and money, while one in four felt “hopeless”, and half had experienced a mental health problem.

Almost half said they did not feel they could cope well with setbacks in life, but despite this more than one quarter said they would not ask for help if they were feeling overwhelmed.

The index shows that young people are particularly disillusioned with the job market and are concerned about money and future prospects. One in ten said they had lost a job through redundancy or having a contract terminated or not renewed, or being fired, while 54% said they were worried about their finances.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

“Cut youth services and violent crime will rise – is that really so hard to see?”

Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian… Another young person killed in the escalating epidemic of violence. The cause? Take your pick.

The right blames Theresa May for easing up on stop and search for weapons – though she knew there is no evidence that it catches or deters, while it fuels anti-police anger. Others suggest decriminalising drugs would destroy the trade that underpins this mayhem.

Unless you think nothing works, shutting down most youth services, including successful programmes to tackle gang violence, was always likely to ricochet back. Youth services went first in the post-2010 slash-and-burn of council budgets. The young poor were early targets for all benefits cuts: their education maintenance allowance went – up to £30 a week for 16- to 19-year-olds from lowest-income families to keep them in education, covering travel, lunches, books and pocket money. Their families lost child tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit, and were often forced to move and move again.

Causes are always complex – but does anyone think those cuts had zero effect on young teenagers turning to gangs, drug-dealing and local identity wars, seeking a fleeting sense of respect as so much was taken away?

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

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