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Report details dwindling opportunities for young people

Young people have the worst economic prospects for several generations, and life has got worse for them over the past five years, according to a new report.

Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said life has become fairer for many people, but progress has "stalled" or even worsened for some groups.

Younger people have suffered the greatest drop in income and employment and now face bigger barriers to achieving economic independence and success than five years ago, said the commission.

Being poor now has a far more negative impact on the education of white people than it does for other ethnic groups, said the report.

White boys from poor families were found to be suffering a combination of disadvantage.

Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have seen the biggest improvements in education and employment, Black workers have suffered one of the biggest falls in wages, while Chinese and Indian pupils continue to perform better than other children, said the report.

The commission added that Britons have become more tolerant of sexual orientation and racial diversity, but less tolerant of religious diversity, with an increase in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crime.

EHRC Commissioner Laura Carstensen said: " This wide-ranging, evidence-based review demonstrates how, while the British people demand a fairer society where everybody has an equal opportunity to make the best of their lives, whatever their background, our achievements still lag behind our aspirations in some areas.

"While we have made important progress in many areas, the gateways to opportunity that the Commission identified five years ago remain harder to pass through for some groups such as disabled people, those from poorer backgrounds and women over a certain age.

"It's great to see the barriers being lowered over the last five years for some people, but during the same period they've been raised higher for younger people in particular.

"Theirs are the shoulders on which the country will rely to provide for a rapidly ageing population, yet they have the worst economic prospects for several generations."

The report, Is Britain Fairer?, showed that during the recession and up to 2013, people under the age of 34 were hit by the steepest fall in incomes and employment, had less access to decent housing and better paid jobs, and faced deepening poverty.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady commented: "The Government can no longer afford to ignore the plight of young people, who are struggling to cope with poverty pay, deteriorating job prospects and the increased cost of housing.

"This report should be wake-up call to ministers. Hiking up university and college fees and excluding young people from the new higher minimum wage rate is not the way to build a fair and prosperous Britain. It is the blueprint for a lost generation.

"Without better employment and training opportunities many young people will continue to be shut of the recovery."

Maria Miller MP, who chairs the newly-formed women and equalities select committee, said: "If the Government wants this country to be a fairer place to live they need the right plans in place to tackle inequalities highlighted in this important report from the EHRC.

"The role of the new select committee is to scrutinise how effective the Government really is on delivering its equality promises. Many of the challenges highlighted in this report will form the subject of our inquiries."

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