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 56.

    Obsession with education is part of the problem. We have a "prizes for all culture" thus sponsoring mediocrity. Indebted graduates stake the supermarket shelves!.
    A socialistic, profligate, nanny state will cripple us all.
    Work hard, save and use that oh so rare commodity, common sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    As the Training Boards were disestablished under Thatcher, companies no longer had the incentive to train staff.
    Now the have access to a pool of highly skilled staff, from Poland and Eastern Europe which helps keep costs down and also we have CA-7 staff from Chennai in India looking after the Bank accounts.
    Soon we will have no English working or employable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    fall in equities etc are market conditions, can be planned for"

    Really? Any fund manager who sold investments (like pensions) on the basis the price was "planned" to fall for 10 years would not be very successful. The pension "holidays" by employers had a bigger impact than GB's "raid". If you think we had "rampant socialism" in that period you need lessons in political philosophy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    For my 1st job interview, I had to try & alter one of my father's old suits to fit because we as a family could not afford a new one. I am now approaching retirement age & I am not too badly off but what I have has been achieved through hard work & sacrifice when I was young. I spent years in bedsits to save a deposit for my 1st flat as there were no jobs near home. That's the way of the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I am a young individual, at 25, I have been in employment all my life. I do not read this article as an attack on the older generation as many seem to, but more a statement of the state of our country. It seems however that everyone wants to blame my generation for the actions of a few. Benefit thieves come in all ages. If you won't see that, then you are part of the problem I'm afraid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    The exemption was withdrawn from taxable incomes of between £24-29,000.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

    But hardly satisfies any generally accepted description of the term "wealthy".

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    From first hand experience

    The normal recruitment cycle of replacing older retirees with young new starters has been affected by the age discrimination laws

    Many people no longer automatically retire at 65 & companies cannot force them without going through a dismissal procedure & the accompanying time & risk

    This is what obsessive discrimination laws have done to the young.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I refer to the under-25's and the statement "with the poorest now no better off than their counterparts 40 years ago". That is, they are as well off as the people now 65 and about to retire were at their age. Simple conclusion is that you get what you work for.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Mmmmm.... interesting that having paid tax since my very first working day thirty years ago, & continueing to do so, I am somehow being financed by the youth?????? This to me is the start of the whinging from the generation thats had everything handed to it on a plate, & are now taking a bite of the reality sandwich, but still blaming others!

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Dave @ 17 quotes Gordon Brown's ACTUALLY NON SOCIALIST raiding of ordinary peoples pension funds but fails of course to highlight this wretched Tory led coalition continuing down that path. Whilst THEY the Politicians GOLD PLATE THEMSELVES. Ace Face@ 13 is correct to highlight suffering. The Tories despise the ordinary working class & young, wishing to educationally & politically cast them adrift.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    23. help thar
    “Cut all the ridiculous "Media Studies" courses”
    I know it is fashionable to attack courses such as media studies. But considering media is one of our biggest exports which also promotes other British products, tourism and general influence abroad, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to learn to do properly…

  • Comment number 44.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Yet another stream of nonsense spews from the government propaganda machine intended to confuse and hide the true facts. Try greed and incompetence on behalf of the so called elite and their puppets who have stealthily engineered this whole situation! The good people of this land really do not deseve to be attacked like this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    The Government owe you nothing take responsibility for your self
    I left school at 15 no qualifications first mortgage and married at 21 lied to get the money i needed the only thing we had new was a bed I repaired cars in the road out side my house to pay my bills did not have children because we could not afford them never claimed a penny or bought anything i could not pay for don't blame me 58

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Glad to see the BBC is once again ignoring the elephant in the room mass immigration.
    Carry on encouraging intergenerational Conflict and providing a highly biased platform for the likes of Blair and Co.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Most of the so called older generation referred to have saved and worked very hard for what they have now whereas the current generation have grown up in a something for nothing era. Its therefore not surprising they are feeling the older people are better off! If everyone worked hard and saved hard instead of flittering money away on gadgets etc they would be comfortable, lessons to be be learnt!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    That seems right

    facebook is a good example of a business that is very successful, and how old are the directors??

    No they are not stuffy old men running a company, and any competitor that was being run in that way would loose due to a lack of progression

    They will also are more honest about pay and remuneration,and will spend their earning, not hide them in share schemes and pensions.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    The term 'divide and rule' springs to mind. Parts of the Tory media do nothing but attack the young, their exams are too easy, they're lazy, workshy, violent, drunk, have no morals etc etc. but the pretty ones make a good front cover on exam results day.

    These attacks are designed to dehumanise them, if they're sub-human they deserve nothing but contempt. Ashamed I voted Lib Dem who go along

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    That's the way it should be. Older generations have worked and paid taxes for decades. If anything, this should be a good life lesson for youngsters, one has to work hard to achieve things in life.


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