As adults, we have some major obligations to our children. We nourish their bodies, helping them through the chaos of toddlerhood and the hormonal hell of their teenage years, so that they grow into physically healthy adults. We nourish their minds, helping them to access the cultural heritage that our society has built up over millennia. We work hard to provide financially for our families, and pay tax to fund the things that society needs as a whole. And we engage in political debates about where we want our society to go now, and in the future.
What we should not do is bung them £10,000 and tell them they have no future.
This week, the UK’s Intergenerational Commission issued its final report, grandly titled A New Generational Contract. Over two years, the commission has relentlessly charted the grim economic outlook facing younger generations, and set that against the better fortunes allegedly enjoyed by older people. Headed by former Conservative government minister David Willetts – author of The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future – And Why They Should Give It Back – the commission includes senior representatives from a range of influential organisations, of all political persuasions. This busy body has produced 22 previous reports, interrogating the problems of housing, education, work, the welfare state, the implications of increased longevity, and many other important policy questions.
These are all questions that need to be tackled, and which politicians shy away from debating honestly and robustly. The energy and expertise marshalled by the commission could have been put into such debates – but it wasn’t. Because right from the start, its aim was to shoehorn complicated questions of economic and social policy into a divisive and penny-pinching rationale for plundering grandma’s assets.
Much media debate has focused on the introduction of a ‘citizen’s inheritance’ payment of £10,000 for all 25-year-olds, ‘a restricted-use asset endowment to all young adults to support skills, entrepreneurship, housing and pension saving’. This bizarre initiative reveals what low aspirations the proponents of ‘intergenerational equity’ policies have for our children. The big problem confronting young people is a combination of low wages and the spiralling costs of housing – whether buying or renting. This is due to the sluggish state of the economy, discussed by Phil Mullan elsewhere on spiked. Unless a serious attempt is made to tackle the structural causes of our economic malaise, young people will continue to be stuck in a miserable and infantilising situation of relying on handouts from the family or the state.