Christine Headley

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Rodborough Learn more

The Law of Unintended Consequences to Strike Again?

by Christine Headley on 28 June, 2010

I can hardly believe that the changes in housing benefit were successfully railroaded past the LibDems in Cabinet. What was Danny Alexander thinking of? Even if the Tories didn’t realise that their proposals would lead to people currently caught in the safety-net of housing benefit to be evicted by private-sector landlords, and thus to more homelessness when the lower limit is imposed, couldn’t our chaps have pointed it out? Not to mention the months of worry for the likely victims, as so clearly expressed on Money Box Live programme on Wednesday. (The link is to the main page. It is currently available on Listen Again; there will also be a transcript in perpetuity. Links to both are towards the bottom of the page.)

Similarly,  commentators (one wonders about self-interest here) are horrified to find that the retirement age for men is to be raised. Mine was raised – with lots of notice –  in the days when Anne Widdecombe was pensions minister. (I will first be able to draw my pension at an Adrian-Mole-type age of something like 64 3/4.) But I am all too aware of the impact the new proposal will have on the young. Either way, they have got the worst of the deal – either they work to  pay for their elders to be retired, or they are under- or unemployed because of those bums on seats upstairs.

My elder daughter was wanting a gap-year job in London. (A year’s accommodation no problem.) I had persuaded her to learn to touchtype while she was doing A-levels; she came out with a good speed and better accuracy than I can achieve. Could she find an entry-level admin job? Doesn’t the civil service want people to do photocopying? It would appear that these jobs are now the province of recent graduates, who have incurred all that debt for less-than-fascinating work and no  prospect of quick promotion to something more interesting.

Many young people have had enough of being force-fed education by the time of A-levels (if not before) and want to earn their own living. It is doing them no favours to clog up the top of the hierarchy with those who would rather be retired. It is also horrible for their slightly-seniors to come out of expensive education, burdened with debt their parents were spared, wondering when on earth they will be able to afford to buy their own place,  and unable to find anything that suits their qualifications.

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