In the News – £10,000 for each millennial?

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:

  1. Reforming property taxation to pay for better social care
  2. Introducing an ‘NHS levy’ to better fund the National Health Service
  3. Improving employment security
  4. Introducing a ‘Better Jobs Deal’ to support and train younger workers disadvantaged by the financial crisis
  5. Improving tenants’ rights
  6. Changing the way council tax, stamp duty and capital gains tax work to help first-time buyers
  7. Giving local authorities better opportunities to buy land and build houses
  8. Improving access to pension contributions for the self-employed and lower paid
  9. Developing new types of pension arrangements
  10. 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:

Media reaction

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.

Social media

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:

Channel 4 tweeted an excerpt of an interview between Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation and Conservative MP Neil O’Brien

Not everyone was entirely pleased with the report:

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:

The deputy director of the Resolution Foundation, Matt Whittaker, had his own poetic take on the report:

Edited 10/5/2018 to add BBC fact check article and second FT opinion piece.

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