“It’s a funny thing, inflation,” says Robert Colvile in The Sunday Times. Our leaders insist young workers should hold off asking for wage increases, in case they make prices rise faster. Yet they see nothing wrong with massively increasing the state pension under the “triple lock”, which will apparently have “no impact on inflation at all”. We shouldn’t be surprised: governments endlessly put the elderly first, at the expense of the young. While the old benefit from huge NHS spending, gold-plated pension increases and winter fuel payments, young people get frozen tax thresholds, vast student loans, “hilariously unaffordable housing” and some of the most expensive childcare in the world.
Older folk may harrumph that they’ve been paying into the system all their lives. But today’s pensioners will receive far more from the welfare state than they have paid in tax, and “far more than the generations after them”. Since the 1990s, the proportion of retired households who own their home outright has risen from around half to almost three quarters, and those houses have increased hugely in value. Meanwhile the proportion of under 35s who own their own home, even with a hefty mortgage, has fallen from two thirds to two fifths. The result is less security and smaller, more expensive homes for new parents, which has sent the birth rate plummeting to record lows. It’s outrageous that young people’s willingness to sacrifice their freedom and prosperity during the pandemic – “to protect their elders” – is not matched by older people willing to permit more housing or accept a fairer arrangement of taxes and care costs. It’ll be a brave politician who makes the case, but it must be made. “Justice for the young!”