By Catherine Meyer-Funnell
Our generation, we are constantly told, are snowflakes. We supposedly live a life of privilege and entitlement, flinching at the thought of any slight inconvenience interrupting our perfect lives. We are the generation of smartphones, political correctness, and Deliveroo. How bad could the world ever be for us? What could we possibly want for that isn’t already available to us at the swipe of a finger?
Well, somewhere to live might be a good start. The think tank Resolution Foundation recently proposed a scheme in which Millennials (those born between 1981-2000) would receive a ‘citizen’s inheritance’ of £10,000 upon turning 25.
This money is intended to bridge generational inequality, allowing young people to put it towards buying a house, starting a business, or paying off those pesky student loans. It may also lessen feelings of resentment towards the baby boomer generation (those born between 1946-1965), who fared far better in the housing and financial markets during their youth.
While the intentions behind the scheme are good, the payout seems to miss the point when it comes to inequality between the generations. There is an expectation in British society that children will exceed the achievements of their parents, enabling us to progress and better ourselves with each generation that passes. We must, however, address the concern that if we start living on handouts in this way, we cannot learn to be independent and adapt to new situations.
The uncertainty of life post-education may seem unsettling, but for many, it is a chance to strike out on your own for the very first time and prove yourself. It is therefore somewhat disappointing, patronising even, to still have to rely on the generosity of our elders.
The idea that £10,00 is a sufficient amount with which to start this new life also appears naïve. It’s all very well saying that a bit of extra money can solve our problems, but realistically, a plan such as this one appears to paper over the cracks rather than actually penetrate the underlying issues.
The average house price in the UK has now reached £226,071, with that climbing to a staggering £729,134 in London – a popular destination for graduates looking for opportunities in an increasingly competitive job market. Couple that with the £50,000 plus burden of student loans, and the situation seems impossible.
No wonder us millennials are feeling just a little disheartened. On the one hand, we face crippling debt and the knowledge that we are far from what our parents had achieved at our age. At the same time, we are scapegoated as the very reason for our misfortune; labelled too lazy or guilty of throwing our money away on flat white coffees and avocado on toast.
We are more educated, yet we earn less. We have reached a paradox where university is barely financially viable, yet a degree is becoming a necessity to find a job with a decent enough salary to pay our way.
No thinktank has come up with a solution to these problems so far, and merely flinging money at a situation is not the best way to overcome it. There are fundamental divisions in our society, with each generation failing to understand the trials and tribulations that others face. This is something that cannot be solved with money; in fact, it is precisely this handout lifestyle that is feeding these lazy millennial stereotypes.
Furthermore, it is not a lack of money that is the problem, but rather the unfair distribution of it. Maybe the Resolution Foundation, the members of which themselves have undoubtedly cleaned up nicely in the past decades, should think about that during their next brainstorm.
Photograph: William Warby via Flickr and Creative Commons.