Monday, 15 July 2013

Interview with Steve Webb at the Social Liberal Forum Conference

On Saturday 13th July I attended a Social Liberal Forum conference with the theme; 'Ownership and Democracy - where does Power lie?'  Being a young person in the party, I constantly question how the leadership is using its  power to help young people. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to interview Steve Webb in the blogger's interview at the SLF conference.

I asked Steve Webb; "Youth unemployment has hit one million, students have increasing debt and  housing prices have risen making it nearly impossible for a young person to have a decent start in life.  Students won't even be able to afford university without getting into massive debt which will hold them down for the rest of their lives. How are the Lib Dems going to win the youth vote at the next election after all of these disasters?" 

Steve Webb answered by saying that the party had established the £1bn youth contract with the slogan  "Earn or Learn." Steve also said that Nick recognises there should be fairness between generations and the importance of supporting them all. He pointed out that the internship scheme had given many young people the skills and work experience that they needed. He admitted that there are not enough houses and that it is causing a lack of shelter and the rising cost in houses  and that it needed amending. I was told that Norman Baker was helping young people by looking into travel costs and trying to make this more affordable for the youth.

Steve was right when he said that Nick Clegg recognises the need for fairness between generations which is key to promoting equality. It is good that the housing problem is being recognised by the Government and I hope that something will be done before house prices soar even higher.

Despite the things that Steve said the Lib Dems are doing for young people, I think that we will struggle to get the youth vote at the next election because of, mainly, the u-turn on tuition fees. There may be a credible economic case for the u-turn but those paying the price, literally, will disagree. Other reasons are the cut to EMA, the fact that 75,000 young people will be homeless this Christmas and the thousands of young people who have to claim housing benefit because of such low pay. I really wish that the Lib Dems were doing more for young people.

I am glad to be a member of Social Liberal Forum because it does not support the austerity programme which does not seem to be producing growth or jobs.

Louise Shaw's blog on the conference
Caron Lindsay's blog on the conference
Mark Jewell
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