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 836.

    Another load of nonsense from a pressure group.
    Has no-one noticed the past 15 years?
    Govt funding measures off the books, targets for everything, Nanny state will provide.
    Schools turning out children so uneducated Govt setup courses to teach em to read and write?
    Young fed BS for 20 years.Ignore gloom and try personal responsibilty,kids not at fault.
    I used it It worked. Try it kids

  • rate this

    Comment number 835.

    They are losing out to the older generation. Ahh, the ones who experienced several recessions, 20% inflation, the oil crisis, lived through Thatcher asset stripping the nation, the Poll Tax riots, the IRA attacks, the Cold War and the dismantling of British industry.

    Aye, we had it easy. Or are todays problem down to the gloablisation and the public school boys infesting the financial sector?

  • rate this

    Comment number 834.

    The so called boomers were born in an age of austerity,food rationing,outside toilets etc.If the spoilt kids today can't hack it that's their fault.As the old saying goes rags to riches and back again in three generations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 833.

    Owning more than 1 home should be banned."

    If you enforced that there would be no rental market, landlords have to own more than one property to allow them to rent out others. Have you really thought this through? It would put a lot of people out of rented accommodation and on to the streets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 832.

    Instead of complaining that something has not been served up on a silver platter for you how about you doing something to help yourself? What about you setting up a company to do something instead of you wanting someone else to present you with the Golden Opportunity? Your future is in your hands, dont rely on others to deal with it for you, do something for yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 831.

    I do wish people would read the whole report instead of taking the BBCs snippets. Frankly this charity has obviously an agenda. How you can state that the younger generation is financing the older generation using such data is absurb. How exactly does rising house prices, the average of councillors or health costs dictates a transfer of income from youth to the elderly I will never know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 830.

    I have left school at the end of sixth form. I am disgusted at the lack of opportunity in Britain. As it was a century ago, the rich take precedent over the poor, large companies crush the development of certain nations, class struggle is here again, like Europe and the middle east, is civil unrest far away?

  • rate this

    Comment number 829.

    With immigration at 100+K pa how can we possibly build enough new houses to accommodate that many people each year?
    If shorthold tenancies were abolished & rents were regulated private rental would be a realistic option for those who can't afford or don't want to buy. Owning more than 1 home should be banned.
    Retirement should remain at 60/65 to enable younger people to get jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 828.

    824 BootRap
    I think the majority of people sympathise its a lot harder to rent or buy your own place now.The real issue (as per 823) is the flood of immigrants and the lack of building new houses to replace sold off council stock.The EU has been a disaster for most nations.Imagine how much cheaper rent/house prices would be if 1,5mil+ eastern europeans didnt live in the UK.Blame Labour for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 827.

    Determine to pit the poor against the poorer and now the young against the old I see?
    Young people are loosing out to the profit driven elite of this country and the government that is clearly in their pockets. These people have the power and money to make or break Britain and I think by their current actions we can see which way they are heading. Young or old, we're in this together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 826.

    re: 825. Waspsnest
    >>>We live in a society where a majority of the young expect everything for nothing. Like a lot of people on here I have served my country, worked and paid taxes for almost 50 years to make my retirement comfortable. ..

    Yes, and good for you (and me too). However, you have to acknowledge we lived through an era of unparalleled opportunity - which at least for now, seems over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 825.

    We live in a society where a majority of the young expect everything for nothing. Like a lot of people on here I have served my country, worked and paid taxes for almost 50 years to make my retirement comfortable. So if you young want anything, then work and pay your way first! Retirement however should be compulsory at 65 (68 in the future) to open up the jobs market..

  • rate this

    Comment number 824.

    I think we all understand that getting your first home wasn't easy, it's just some fail to realise that it's a lot harder now than what it used to be, and are more than happy to label those less fortunate as scroungers/lazy etc.
    I do wonder how many would get to where they are today if they started out now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 823.

    822 Jason Essex,
    "Council house sell off applied to a minority who just saw the opportunity to own their own home. They certainly didn`t think of shafting the new generation".

    True, also they could not have foreseen that the next government would allow uncontrolled numbers of immigrants into the country, nor that future jobs would be so hard to come by.

  • rate this

    Comment number 822.

    820 BootRap
    Glad to see you are recognising the fact that the majority of people worked hard to buy their own home. Council housing sell off applied to a minority who just saw the opportunity to own their home. They certainly didn't think of shafting the new generation. I rent my place out as I moved back home to look after my mum, I try to keep the rent low to help the people in there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 821.

    Divide and Rule. Just remember, people, while you're squabbling amongst yourself, Mr Cameron and his rich mates will be chuckling away - no, actually, they'll be guffawing and slapping their thighs with laughter at how easy it is to get past British workers who's own sense of entitlement (globally speaking) plus envy, apathy and spite have brought them to what they are today, slaves

  • rate this

    Comment number 820.


    +1 Totally agree with you. I know BB get picked on for doing what they thought was right at the time, and not all the rapacious landlords we have at the moment are BB. But when the blame starts getting passed down to those less fortunate as if it's all their fault then it is a bit much.
    I know a lot of BB are just as angry as the young are at being taken for a ride.

  • rate this

    Comment number 819.

    Similar thread some weeks ago. I asked why landlords should expect more in rent than they pay in mortgage. "What's the incentive otherwise?" came the reply. Well, how about a house bought and paid for by someone else...or isn't that good enough?
    Programmes like Homes under the Hammer don't help. A 20-something with a portfolio of 17 may admire him, but he's part of the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 818.

    There is undoubtedly a legacy of debt being left for today's young, but it's not the fault of ordinary people. People try to do the best for themselves at any given time. If anything is to blame it's the decades of political ineptness that allows people to do that at the expense of others.
    The real culprit is the loony preoccupation with house prices in this country. Houses are for living in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 817.

    @814.Alasdair Campbell
    Give them another country where they can earn 4+ times more for a bit of farm work/washing cars etc I'm sure you'll see them put in a bit of extra hard graft.

    Yes, and not many went into higher education at the time, so a lot of BB were in council housing and did very nicely.


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