Young people's prospects have 'nose-dived' says report

Students in lecture Young people are financing richer, elderly people, argues the report

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Younger people in the UK are losing out financially and politically to older generations, a report claims.

The Intergenerational Fairness Index suggests the prospects of younger people have "nose-dived" since the start of the financial crisis in 2008.

The index uses official statistics to compare different generations' stakes in key areas from income and employment to housing, pensions and education.

Co-author Angus Hanton said the plight of younger generations was clear.

"The index shows that poorer young people are financing richer old people as our society grapples with demographic change and increasing longevity."

The authors, from the Intergenerational Foundation, co-founded by Mr Hanton, focus on nine indicators they believe most affect young people's lives and outlook - unemployment, income, housing, pensions, health, education, government debt, the environment and participation in democracy.

Their stated aim is to show "the degree to which younger people in our society are at an advantage or disadvantage" and how much "future generations will be impacted by the ways in which we live our lives today."

They used official data from 1990 to 2011, excluded the effects of inflation and population growth and compared how much different generations put in and what they will get out.

'Rapid deterioration'

They used the figures to create an aggregate of how the balance between the generations has changed over the past 20 years.

They say the situation worsened by 28 points between 2000 and 2011 with a particularly rapid deterioration since 2008.

Some measures showed an improvement. For example in 2010 a greater percentage of national income was spent on education than at any time since the mid 1970s - but the authors say the prospects for young people overall are poor.

The report states: "Whilst government borrowing and pension debt have increased steadily, there has also been an increased shift in favour of the older generation through higher charges for education, rising youth unemployment and high housing costs.

"This index highlights... the increasing problem of poorer young people financing richer older people."

The authors say recent government changes for example to the financing of higher education in England as likely to shift the balance further away from younger people.

Angus Hanton said: "They now face an average £42,000 of debt from university, the prospect of long-term unemployment, record rent demands and now the abolition of housing benefit."

He called for benefits to be cut fairly across the generations: "Let's talk about those benefits that go to everyone over 60 years of age, irrespective of wealth - winter fuel allowance, free bus passes and free prescriptions."

Paul Johnson director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said: "The broad statement that young people have had it worse during the recession is true in all sorts of measures. Unemployment rates for the under-25s have risen steeply while this is not the case for the over-30s.

"The over-40s have been able to continue spending as before but the spending power of the under-30s has gone through the floor as their incomes have fallen and they try to save to buy houses.

"Poverty among the under-25s continues to rise with the poorest now no better off than their counterparts 40 years ago... the worst-affected have been those with low levels of education from poor backgrounds who are not going to be supported by the older generation."

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students said: "The issues affecting young people today already affect many poorer older people too.

"Pushing parents into poverty disproportionately impacts on the young people they care for and denying older generations access to education cuts the aspirational link that springboards their children to continue studying.

"Any intergenerational rebalancing needs to be underpinned by understanding rather than obscuring the huge and growing socio-economic inequalities in our society.

"We should be looking to find common cause across the generations, not advocating a race to the bottom where the poor, whether young or old, continue to lose out."

A government spokeswoman said: "We want every young person to have an excellent start in life. Education is the surest route out of poverty and our reforms mean that many more children will receive the world-class teaching they deserve.

"Tackling youth unemployment remains one of our key priorities. We have launched a £1bn youth contract which includes a wage incentive for employers to hire young people and an extra 250,000 work experience placements over the next three years.

"We are also helping young people improve their skills through pre-employment training by expanding the Apprenticeships programme."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The biggest financial problem young people is house prices. They will have to pay grossly inflated figures to buy a glorified shoe box.

    It was immoral to treat family homes as profit making investment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    This is nothing new - as Iain Banks says: "In all the human societies we have ever reviewed, in every age and in every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots."

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Well of course people are living longer, so naturally the older generations will proportionally be larger.

    As to politics, older people are a big electoral bloc and the young by and large don't bother as much.

    Although it is true that politics is afraid of the grey not to upset them. Remember the "granny tax" furore? Even though it only applied to wealthy ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    First it was the old and now it's the young. The old are more likely to vote and so they are appeased. Why does anyone in the country have to suffer, why do we have a government that are targeting specific people for hardship?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    This is totally due to government borrowing and unfunded pension promises which passes the paying of liabilities to other people's children and grandchildren.

    While us taxpayers were paying for war heroes and widows it didn't seem so bad but now we are paying for a load of ungrateful baby boomers with nice houses, 2 cars and 2nd homes who can blame us for being resentful. We never voted for this

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Perspective please -true baby boomers are getting more than the young but as we lived in a period of good employment we have also contributed more. I would also say many of those baby boomers are contributing more to support their adult children than their own parents were able. This is fair comment, not defence of Cameron's war on youth which is just another example of politic's short-termism

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Several Billion a year is paid out to people over retirement age who still pay higher rate tax in non means tested fuel benefits winter fuel allowances ,free bus passes,free tv licences, all paid in addition to old age pension to those with incomes of £800+ a week.

    The reason why these will not be targeted but payments to the poor young will is simple .
    The elderly vote and many vote Tory

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    "The Intergenerational Fairness Index" - despite having a degree in social sciences why do I get the impression this is some invented nonsense!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    @solomondogs I agree that too many young people feel that the state 'owes' them something. However, too many older people do, too. Universal benefits such as free bus passes and winter fuel allowance were protected when very little for younger generations was. This is despite many older people being very wealthy. Moves to stabilise income tax were then met with huge hostility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I'm from the baby boomer generation and far from never having it so good many of us have never had it. The young today have never had it so good with modern technology lack of back breaking jobs, fewer dirty jobs, cheap drink, cheap holidays, the lottery, cheap cars, free money from the taxpayer or government, cheap food, stop whineing and just get on with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    what happened was natural career progress was stopped, you study leave school or go on to uni, take a lower paid job or part time, work way up gaining experience by that time older generations were retiring, uncontrolled immigration removed that level so they are faced with not gaining the experience and entering at low levels of pay whilst being older company like carillion import labour why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    One thing businesses have forgotten or ignore, handing down skills to the younger generation. When someone retires how much of their knowledge is handed down? Although I spent 6 years day release at college, my apprenticeship consisted of working with skilled men to learn how to do the job, something you don't get in text books. All I ask is before you retire hand down the skills - it's important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    This is a ridiculous claim. Many old people saved money, out of meagre earnings, for their retirement. Most paid for their pensions. Old people don't waste money on foreign holidays they cannot afford; they don't waste money on smart phones at £35 a month and pop concernts at £60 a seat. Old people try and live within their means. This is completely alien to almost all the younger people I know

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    How short sighted of the government to fail to support the U-25s.

    They are the wealth providers for the future. Those with skills will leave the UK and those who remain will be consigned to welfare or low paid jobs.

    Cameron urgently should bring in a rent cap to take the heat out of the property bubble in the SE and reduce the amount of housing benefit claimed.

    The man lacks vision & courage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I'm getting a little fed up with the 'how unrewarded' the young are. I left school in a recession, after my 'A' levels, I arranged a job about a month before and I've never stopped. I didn't expect the state to look after me, still don't. Kids, the world does not owe you a living, stop whining and get up and do something, and yes you'll most likely start at the bottom, like everyone else...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I am from the had it all baby boomer generation. Best jobs,best homes, best health care, safe travel, best pensions etc. Ok I have paid into the system all my life, so what. The young of today must have the resources directed to them to give them the hope and aspiration my generation had. If it means my generation going without that's only fair. Baby boomers have to accept they had their day


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