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Research published recently by the Resolution Foundation shows that in 1997, when Tony Blair and New Labour came to power, spending on the oldest in society was a third of the total spent by government. By the end of the Coalition’s time in government, this had risen to 43.4%. With pensions triple locked and as we prepare to tighten our belts further in the aim of removing the deficit, it is not inconceivable that government spending at the end of this parliament will have risen to 50% or above.

To an extent, larger spending on older members of society makes perfect sense. They have paid into the pot for most of their lives, and so deserve to feel the benefits of that. As we all get older, we tend to require more healthcare and general assistance. Having said that, the levels we are currently seeing and which are likely to continue seeing for the foreseeable future should alarm us.

The impact of this gradual shift in spending up the age ladder is having profound effects already. New research today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that 1.7 million people aged 16 to 24 are in poverty compared with 1.4 million people aged over 65, a number which has fallen by 600,000 in the last 10 years, the only age group in Britain to see a drop.

For this Conservative Government, this trend is potentially deadly not just in the long run, but in the here and now also. At present, the party is seen as the party of the old, something which is hard to argue against if you have ever attended a local association event. While it is not unique for political parties in Britain to be comprised principally of older members, the Conservative Party has not had a recent influx of passionate young people like the Labour Party. Instead, the revelations surrounding Road Trip 2015 have been damaging. If young party members are criticising the party for ignoring their voices and complaints, how can the party be seen to be fighting the cause of young people more generally?

While the Conservative Party enjoyed success in May, there is no guarantee it will perform as well in the future, even if current polling on Corbyn and Labour is apocalyptic. The party is simply not attracting enough young voters, as demonstrated by polling from  Ipsos Mori. Only 27% of 18-24 year olds voted Conservative, which is not only down 3% from 2010, but shows the party failed to capitalise on the Lib Dem’s 25% decrease in the same age category. While some younger voters will change and vote Conservative at future elections, the gulf in voting patterns at the moment means that this could be a huge problem for long term electoral prospects.

While the old currently favour the Conservatives at election time, that may change. The party needs to better connect with the young people of today to ensure that it doesn’t. 

Ryan Gray is an Associate at Bright Blue.