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Under 25? This is why you MUST start voting


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If we as a generation realised we are active in our own marginalisation through our passive stance on voting, would we head off to the ballot box?

Yesterday, the government’s overhaul to the state pension system set out in motion. Although pensions seem a faraway thought as we lay in bed preoccupied with the thought of the crippling debt we have amassed during university, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be planning for the future.

The new flat rate system, sold as a simplified version of the old system, is set to save both the government and taxpayer millions. Formerly, the basic state pension paid out £120 a week with additional top ups via schemes such as the state second pension for those who qualify. Now, the abolishment of top ups in favour of a “flat rate” of £155.65 will deliver significant gains to every demographic. Except our own.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Women will gain on average £5.20 a week more through the flat rate and the self-employed will gain £7.50. That being said, those of us in the under 25 age bracket are set to lose £19,000 each come retirement. Meanwhile, government estimates that the majority who retire before 2040 will be better off.

We could blame Tory economic policy and the cautious attitudes of various governments towards pensions, an area of the welfare budget that remains the most highly supported by the general public. But we could also lay some blame on ourselves.

Take the 2015 turnout data as example. According to Ipsos Mori 78% of over 65s turned out to vote. Compare this to the 43% of 18-24 year olds who voted and we can almost see a ‘reasoning’ behind the government’s favourable attitude towards older age groups.

If we are not finding our way to the ballot box, then why should government act favourably towards us? There is no coincidence that legislation continuously favours those in higher age brackets who turn out to vote in vast numbers.

Surely it makes sense that all we can do is vote and vote in huge numbers so that the student demographic - the politicians, civil servants, doctors, journalists, public sector workers (etc, etc) of the future - do not face under-representation.

Had we actual representation in politics (our demographic currently boasting only 21-year-old Mhairi Black in the House of Commons) might we feel more enfranchised?

If voting age was lowered, would we feel more involved, more encouraged to take part in the process that has a large influence over the rest of our lives? Like our vote mattered?

If we were taught about politics in education from an early age, would we realise that through exercising our right to vote we can make significant challenges to the status quo? That if our age group all exercise this right, there would be less of an excuse for politicians to turn a blind eye?

More recently it has been exposed that through changes in the electoral register, nearly 800,000 names have disappeared including a disproportionate amount of students. This will have an overwhelming effect on both the EU Referendum and upcoming local elections.

If we disagree with the effects the change to pensions will have, the price of houses, tuition fee hikes or even the thought of a future in or out of the European Union, we should prove this with a vote. Or continue to be marginalised, watching an age group benefit who won’t even be around by the time we reach pension age.

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