A Conservative politician has said that young people should busk to raise the travel money they need to get to work.

Damian Collins — who is the MP for Folkstone — made the point during on last night’s Battlefront on Channel 4, prompting one campaigner to write on the programme’s blog:

“A rather absurd point was raised by MP Damian Collins where he thought it was brilliant that someone who was doing an internship busked to cover his travel expenses.”

When asked how young people could afford to look for work, Collins heaped praise upon an ex-advertising colleague who he claimed had busked for his travel expenses at an internship with M&C Saatchi. Apparently the mystery co-worker:

“…busked to raise the train fare to get into London to hawk his book of work around until he got his break.”

Collins then added:

“Getting the job you’ve wanted in a city like London has always taken a lot of personal motivation.”

But Liam Preston from the British Youth Council — who also appeared on the programme — blasted Collins, saying:

“I find it quite insulting that you think we should be busking to get the travel money to find work.”

And Labour employment spokesman Liam Byrne said later:

“Young people are busting a gut to find work and this privileged Tory is telling them to sing for their supper.”

Collins’ comments add to the growing impression that the government has failed to grasp the nature of the youth unemployment crisis. Suggesting that earning extra pin money through activities like busking is not only insulting misses the point entirely. Young people need proper, paid jobs. Then they can pay for their travel out of their wages, like everybody else.

If you’re doing an unpaid internship, how do you have enough money to survive? Have you busked or done odd jobs to earn cash to cover your basic living costs? Do you think the politicians understand what it’s like to be young and jobless?

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