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 36.

    Older people (my peers) employing buy-to-let schemes to finance their future so they're "not a drain on the state" are a national shame. Their guaranteed income is a tax on the young which allows them to undercut the young on pay-day. We must also lengthen education and training, but jobs will only come when we stop voting for bourgeois (lib/lab/con) parties.

  • Comment number 35.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    We pened our doors to everybody and anybody, both legal and illegal, and now we are really paying the price for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    26. Total Mass Retain 5 MINUTES AGO

    Yeah....£10,500 is tax exempt.

    The exemption was withdrawn from taxable incomes of between £24-29,000. Which in my book is a fair income.

    It made a great headline....bad Gideon nicking pensions. But was not exactly truthful....

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    In all generations there are winners and losers, not all baby boomers are wealthy home owners with good pensions and you can hardly blame an entire generation for the excesses of a few. Many of that generation are supporting both their parents and their own children so perhaps it is a good thing that they have the means to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Unfortunately, the young seem to want it all for very little effort and that is not the way it works for the vast majority of people regardless of age. The idea that the young are supporting the old is laughable, why should older people give up on life by ceasing to work just to make way for a newer generation. By and large, the older generation have put in and are now taking back

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Discus is misbehaving again,... despite being closed down during the night for "maintenance"

    I just "agreed" with a post , but it showed as disagreeing!
    1. Unrealistic expectations fostered by 13 years of the unbridled largess of rampant socialism.

    2. The challenge of paying for those excesses being met by the current government.
    Said Dave... I agree!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    "..for benefits to be cut fairly across the generations.."

    It was tried. An attempt to equalize & simplify tax allowances was called a 'granny tax' and outrage followed. The trouble is many, both old or young, have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. At least this coalition realises a big big problem is brewing and it's going to be increasingly unaffordable. Labour are still in denial.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Good, its old v young day, makes a change from fat v thin, north v south, et al.
    Meanwhile hospitals face closure, mainly thanks to PFI, a political construct, bet Circle, god bless them, steps in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    22. Centres for Stuff I Heard from Some Guy

    Only one point from all those I made? Surely you can do better? The point is that GB took billions and squandered them, fall in equities etc are market conditions, can be planned for and are different matter entirely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Remember the "granny tax" furore? Even though it only applied to wealthy ones"

    You must have a different definition of the word "wealthy" if it applies to those with incomes of £10,500. That may or may not be a sizeable pension but would not be considered especially generous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    With the rich or highly paid celebrities paying only paying 1% tax or paying their taxes off as charity donations(?) I'm not surprised there's no money in the pot for the young. Adding to the problem are companies that are let off their tax debt!!!

    The money is out there, it's just not being collected or is disappearing through legal loopholes - madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Apparently having served my country in the forces, worked hard to build a career despite not having the support of my parents to study for a degree and diligently paying taxes, at 52 I am 'part of the problem'. I am really sick of this attitude that rewards those who criticise from the sidelines but villifies those who make an effort to change for the better. Anyone can comment, only the few do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    I'm still not sure why University is now "Can you pay £40,000" instead of "Are you smart enough?"

    Labour's idea of trying to get "everyone" into university was stupid, but only the well off going to university is just as bad.

    Cut all the ridiculous "Media Studies" courses, raise the bar, get rid of the awful students and then make University free again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The retired have put in 40 years plus of blood, sweat and tears supporting the country, had our pensions hammered by Gordon Brown's raiding parties"

    That's simply ridiculous. The poor returns on equities, increased life exectancy and the massive fall in annuity rates have had far greater impact on pensions than GB's removal of tax relief on pension fund dividends ever did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Absolutely nothing to do with age - "in my day" Britain exported its manufactured goods, the island was not overcrowded so there were more job opportunities. The cost of production was low (No H&S & Enviro twaddle) so Britain was competitive. Mortgage applications were tested & granted ONLY if you could afford them. Muddle headed & PC government policies are to blame for the errosion to poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    How about the fact that older folk have more committments and have far greater experience which is needed and normally more willing to work much harder without gripes. I am 66 - and love working hard - I accept lower than I deserve because I WANT to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Just heard of family hiring a 'junior tuxedo' and 'limo' for their sons 'prom' at the end of junior school. Obviously some people have money to waste. As a baby boomer I just walked out of junior school on the last day, leaving grammar school at 18 we went on a trip to the Lake District. Some of the younger generation have very high expectations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I was in continuous employment for over 30 years. Even when I was made redundant last year all I received for my 30-odd years of paying tax and NI was £1701.70 in Job Seekers allowance. I was entitled to no other benefits as my husband works. No-one has been responsible for keeping me. I've paid my way all my life. I'm back in work again and still paying my own way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The problem is twofold.

    1. Unrealistic expectations fostered by 13 years of the unbridled largess of rampant socialism.

    2. The challenge of paying for those excesses being met by the current government.

    The retired have put in 40 years plus of blood, sweat and tears supporting the country, had our pensions hammered by Gordon Brown's raiding parties, and paid huge interest on their mortgages.


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