Give 25 year olds a £10,000 ‘citizen’s inheritance’
That is the main headline that much of both new and old media have pulled from a report published this week by the Intergenerational Commission, delivered by the Resolution Foundation thinktank. However, this is actually just one (the last, in fact) of ten recommendations made by the commission in A New Intergenerational Contract. We look at some of the data used in the report and reactions to it.
The report explores multiple issues in jobs and pay, housing, pensions and the role of the state in questions of fairness across generations. The report used a wide range of surveys, studies and other data, much of which is available through the UK Data Service. The commission’s recommendations cover a range of areas:
- Reforming property taxation to pay for better social care
- Introducing an ‘NHS levy’ to better fund the National Health Service
- Improving employment security
- Introducing a ‘Better Jobs Deal’ to support and train younger workers disadvantaged by the financial crisis
- Improving tenants’ rights
- Changing the way council tax, stamp duty and capital gains tax work to help first-time buyers
- Giving local authorities better opportunities to buy land and build houses
- Improving access to pension contributions for the self-employed and lower paid
- Developing new types of pension arrangements
- Abolishing inheritance tax and moving to different forms of lifetime receipts taxes to fund the proposed £10,000 ‘citizen’s inheritance’
(This is just a brief summary. To avoid any ambiguity and for the full text of the commission’s recommendations, see p17 of the report.)
The data used
A significant amount of the data used to create this report is held by the UK Data Service:
- Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings
- British Household Panel Survey
- British Social Attitudes Survey
- English Housing Survey
- Family Expenditure Survey
- Family Resources Survey
- Households Below Average Income
- Labour Force Survey
- Living Costs and Food Survey
- New Exchange Survey
- Understanding Society
- Wealth and Assets Survey
The Metro, Guardian, i news and the Independent all led with the £10,000 ‘citizen’s inheritance’ angle, mostly in a positive way. Several of them also included opinion pieces praising the idea, such as The Guardian and i news (which actually had a second opinion piece listing six reasons why it is a good idea, so enthused were they). The Independent’s opinion piece was not a fan of the proposal.
While the New Statesman argued that the idea was a positive one, the Huffington Post asked what difference £10,00 would actually make to young people (their choice of people to answer this could be seen as not entirely representative). The Spectator queried the need for the £10,000, questioning whether it was actually harder to buy a house now than 30 years ago.
The Mail, again focusing on the £10,000 was less impressed than the others, especially in its opinion piece. The Express focused on its core readership, picking out the recommendation that care costs for the elderly should be capped at £50,000.
The BBC reported on the commission’s recommendations in its Business section, with a headline leading on the idea of taxing pensioners to ‘heal the intergenerational divide’. Given the reports recommendations on collecting National Insurance from those over state pension age but still in work, the BBC also produced a fact check article on how many pensioners are working and what they’re doing (referring to UK 2011 Census data along the way).
ITV’s headline also included the ‘taxing pensioners’ angle, but did also mention the £10,000 ‘citizen’s inheritance’.
The Financial Times assessed the recommendations of the policy quite thoroughly, with an additional opinion piece supporting the need to reduce the intergenerational wealth gap, focusing mainly on reform of council tax. A second opinion piece takes issue with some of the recommendations of the commission’s report.
Tom Forth, head of Open Data Institute Leeds and The Data City, took to Twitter (while making his tea – and yes, there was a millennial avocado involved) to give his thoughts while reading the report. It’s a longish thread, but worth a read:
Tea is in the oven. While it cooks, I shall read the Intergenerational Commission's report. But because I am endless, I will be completing this table first. pic.twitter.com/RRtjmYpStJ
— Tom Forth (@thomasforth) May 8, 2018
Channel 4 tweeted an excerpt of an interview between Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation and Conservative MP Neil O’Brien
"Are we happy about a country where more of the living standards over our lifetimes are based on who our parents are, than what we earn?"@TorstenBell, director of the @resfoundation, and Conservative MP Neil O’Brien discuss inter-generational fairness. pic.twitter.com/w5aUAsgvFt
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) May 9, 2018
Not everyone was entirely pleased with the report:
Lots of great data & sensible recommendations in @resfoundation intergenerational commission report. But it skirts a central issue – collapse in GDP per capita growth since 2008 pic.twitter.com/kI41vMpzIn
— Richard Jones (@RichardALJones) May 9, 2018
Unimpressive and overly lefty. Doesn’t go to say for all of their policy recommendations but who’s to say there won’t be housing inflation? Etc etc. On this point alone regarding intergenerational commission I’m totally right winged in economic affairs. Only this once. I swear. https://t.co/WsgdxW8WvT
— Cinnamon (@swgcinnamon) May 9, 2018
The £10K suggested by the #IntergenerationalCommission may be of some help to milennials, but not in buying a house as it wouldn't be nearly enough for a deposit & more importantly it would be impossible to get a mortgage in zero hours/temporary contracts that are so prevalent.
— Jane Dawson #FBPE (@JanekDaw) May 8, 2018
The report included a ‘Millennial myth-busting’ section on p112 which breaks down popular misconceptions around eating out, holidays, money spent on phones, and the idea that millennials ‘job hop’ frequently, which Twitter user AntBreach rated highly:
Favourite bit from the @resfoundation's big Intergenerational Commission report – the myth-busting of the belief that Millennials waste their money on frivolous brunches and holidays abroad, in contrast to the frugal and prudent Boomers pic.twitter.com/8K6YDGNaCY
— Ant 🥑 (@AntBreach) May 8, 2018
The deputy director of the Resolution Foundation, Matt Whittaker, had his own poetic take on the report:
Working on the Intergenerational Commission didn't take up enough of my time in recent days, so I wrote this too
h/t Gilbert and Sullivan pic.twitter.com/plqFjvY8Yk
— Matt Whittaker (@MattWhittakerRF) May 8, 2018
Edited 10/5/2018 to add BBC fact check article and second FT opinion piece.