Social policy: Betrayed young 'will be worse off than parents'

The Government's "betrayal" of young people has made their generation the first in over a century likely to grow up to be worse off than their parents, Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed yesterday.

Mr Miliband accused the Government of "kicking away the ladders" to opportunity for young people by scrapping education allowances, raising university fees and abandoning Labour's guarantee of apprenticeship places.

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Labour leader's comments "beggar belief" when his party had left a legacy of debt to younger generations.

Speaking during a Shadow Cabinet away day to Gateshead, Mr Miliband said the "British promise" had always been that each generation would have more opportunity for prosperity and self-betterment than the last.

But he said the Government's cuts agenda was "destroying the chances of children and young people and undermining Britain's future in a profound way".

And he added: "My fear is that instead of a national mission to pass on a fairer legacy to our kids, this Government seems to be kicking away the ladders.

"It all adds up to a Government which is betraying the promise of Britain to help the next generation get on."

Labour released private polling suggesting that 71 per cent of voters think the next generation will have a harder life than their parents, compared to just nine per cent who say it will be easier.

And the party said that the Government's Education Bill will abolish the entitlement, introduced under Labour and due to come into effect in 2013, for all suitably-qualified 16- to 18-year-olds to have an apprenticeship.

The Tories claimed that Labour's entitlement was "meaningless", because it promised to fund apprenticeships regardless of whether they would lead to a real job.