At the beginning of this week, the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) meant very little to most young people - now, it is clear that our futures rest in the hands of the Coalition Government at a time when unprecedented cuts in public spending are being rolled out because of a financial crisis we didn’t cause. A generation with less opportunity than those before, casualties of a reckless cause and the offensive punchline to an extended period of financial and political mismanagement, with no one laughing.

When something goes wrong, you find whoever’s responsible and get it fixed. But the Coalition have confirmed their longstanding attack on the aspiring generation already on its knees. Youth unemployment at record levels, scrapping the Future Jobs Fund, slashing the Young Person’s Guarantee - and now the Education Maintenance Allowance faces the axe too.

This flagship policy provided school leavers from low income families with a level of financial support to remove expensive public transport and rising course costs as a barrier to participation in post-16 education. Branded an ‘incentive’ at the time, it has since become a necessity for many – indeed, a survey carried out by NUS in 2008 found 65% of participants on the highest EMA rate of £30 stating that without EMA they would not be able to continue to study.

Michael Gove has yet again demonstrated his government’s inability to understand the financial burdens placed on lower-middle and working class families. EMA has become a vital part of the family income for hundreds of thousands of families. £10, £20 or £30 a week might not sound like a lot of money, but for many students it was travel to and from college, a contribution towards the hundreds of pounds paid for your course materials or part payment for the expensive field trip coming up.

Let’s be under no illusion, 16-19 education is far from free. Students on vocational courses in particular face extraordinarily high course costs. I’ve met plenty of young people paying at least £600 for the equipment they needed for courses like Hair & Beauty, Plumbing and Construction. EMA makes a significant contribution to the lives of young people on these courses, who are now facing the reality of being priced out of their own education as they will be asking the inevitable question – how can I afford to study? I can tell you that I am already hearing this widely from young people in further education up and down the country.

So, at a time when there are no jobs for young people, when struggling middle income households lose their Child Benefit, when any support programme that was in place has been scrapped, young people are being punished even more by taking away their Education Maintenance Allowance.

In his speech in parliament on the on the day of the CSR, George Osborne suggested vaguely that the allowance would be “replaced” with more targeted measures. But, turn to page 42 of the CSR report, and you will see savings set out through cutting the EMA budget by £500 million. This happens to be the entire budget for EMA. So we’re looking at a severely reduced budget for student support which will be “delivered locally to those who need it most.” To me, this looks like we can expect a minor uplift in Learner Support Funds, a discretional budget given to colleges for cases of hardship. In what warped sense of reality can you deliver locally what a £500million support programme does nationally? Aside from the fact that student services and student funding teams lack the capacity to be able to deliver this in practice, the cash simply doesn’t stack up.

Unless of course you fund provision properly so that institutions don’t need to charge students course fees, and of course you fund local authorities properly so they can offer free travel for students. Instead, funding is being cut to our institutions and local authorities, so these costs are only set to rise.

My generation is the generation of growth; a once again prosperous economy depends on us to step up to the plate and get the right skills and qualifications to get our country moving again.

‘Freedom, Fairness and Responsibility’ – more like reckless, unfair and irresponsible.