Sunday 22 October 2017

Lorraine Courtney: So-called Republic of Opportunity offers very little to the young

Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tony Gavin
Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Tony Gavin

Lorraine Courtney

All eyes were on Paschal Donohoe yesterday to see if he'd take his opportunity to be bold with economic policy - and if young people would get a Budget that recognised and addressed our needs too. He certainly looked cocky, making a show of his folder for the waiting press, but inside the Dáil it became clear the contents were fairly light.

Donohoe was in no mood to throw his cash around, instead sticking to the austerity script - not very surprising given the national debt that stretches further into the future than most of us would like to imagine. This terrifying bill will end up being paid by the young. This is despite common sense telling us that by the time we come to retire, the public purse will not afford us anywhere near as generous a State-funded income as pensioners get now - that's if we get anything at all - and most of us will probably still be renting flats.

There was a time when most people could expect their children to grow up and be better-off than they were. From increased job insecurity to an impenetrable housing market, we all know that millennials face big financial challenges compared to their parents' and grandparents' generations. We aspire to our parents' level of financial security but are nowhere on track to achieve it. This first dawns when we graduate, are unable to get a "real" job and are forced to join the gig economy instead. Youth unemployment is still a worrying 14.8pc and there has been no movement to address the lower rates of jobseekers' allowance for young people aged 18 to 25. The National Youth Council had called for a graduated restoration to the full adult rate with a first step of a €30 increase in 2018.

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