Lords of the Land?

rental-property-sign-financial-education90% of young British adults under the age of 35 who earn ordinary salaries, will be “frozen out of home ownership” within the next decade, according to a recent report from the Resolution Foundation.

This depressing news is a further blow to the aspirations of young adults who already face a nasty cocktail of other social and economic problems, which make their future life prospects look much less attractive then those available to their parents. Some of the Resolution Foundation’s conclusions are really shocking.

It would take an average saver, on an ordinary wage, about 22 years to save the money required for the typical first-time buyer deposit: in the 1990s the same process would have taken three years.

And it is not just a think tank report that sets out the deplorable condition of our national housing policy. A report by an All-Party Committee of MPs described our housing policy as “a mess” , and blamed governments of all parties for failing to get to grips with the woeful under supply of houses over the last few decades.

The Resolution report also got stuck into the false hopes which were raised by the government’s much vaunted Help to Buy scheme. It transpires that this scheme really offers help to households that are already better off, and have household incomes in excess of £40,000, which is the good fortune of over half of those that have benefited from the scheme.

Closed Door Policy

These changes are going to have a profound effect on all our lives and there is still no answer in sight. In 1998 22% of people under 35 on modest incomes rented, that figure is 53% and rising rapidly. We are effectively closing the door on the chances of millions of young people to ever own their own home, while current statistics indicate that over 35% of all home owners are over 65, up from just 23% in 1998.

The Guardian columnist, Dan Hancox, set out a vision of an almost dystopian future for many young people as their dreams of home ownership come crashing down –

As home ownership becomes a rarity among under 35s, our cities will change. A more peripatetic and insecure young adult population will be compelled to move home more regularly, at the whim of an increasingly muscular landlord class, to areas that are cheaper and less well connected.

Has anyone actually thought through what this will mean? Do we do anything meaningful to equip young people with the robust and durable skills they will need to manage their lives in these profoundly changed circumstances?

Low wages and insecure often temporary jobs, coupled with an inaccessible property market will make it all but impossible for millions of this generation of young adults to build the kind of stable, independent and solvent lives which we still hold out as the ideal.

If we fail to prepare them for what is to come, we cannot expect to see anything other than the potentially awful social consequences set out, in part at least, in Dan Hancox’s unsettling vision.

We have a plan for how to give young people the skills, adaptability and understanding they need to navigate their way to a better future in which, above all else, they at least understand what they are up against and can do something about it, rather than be tossed around on the waves of the world, until they break on the miserable shore of permanent renting and low wage jobs.