£10,000 payout to millennials: more patronising than problem-solving

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?

But if we start living on handouts in this way, how can we learn how to be independent and adapt to new situations?

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.

It is disappointing, patronising even, to still have to rely on the generosity of our elders.

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.

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 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.

It is precisely this handout lifestyle that is feeding these lazy millennial stereotypes.

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.

One Response

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  1. nemo
    Jun 07, 2018 - 09:58 AM

    I am not a millennial. I benefitted from the last days of the student grant, and had the princely sum of £330 to pay back in student loans, as I was one of the very first to have access to them (just for the record, that was back in 1991).

    And I feel sorry for millennials. The lifestyle enjoyed by your grandparents is not one that many of your parents enjoy, nor will you. And the major sources of this are the horrific property market, together with the demonisation of social housing, and income inequality.Those of us in our 40s and 50s are now looking with worried eyes at the stripping of pension and social care benefits my parents generation have enjoyed, and this will also affect millennials too.

    I grew up in the 70s in what would now be called “social housing”. Back then, it was just called a council estate. There was no particular impetus to buy your own home. Houses were well maintained and rents relatively affordable. These were good places to live. The other main piece of this jigsaw was that most of the families living there were working families. And that meant, together with affordable rents and decent housing, families had disposable income, and credit-based debt was harder to run up.. There’s myth that the 70s were grim, dystopian times, but that’s not entirely true. There were certainly troubles, but for most working people life was not, on the whole, as hard as it is now: And there was far less stigma: social housing was a common good, and it was just another place to live; it was not a last resort. And that stigmatising mentality has consequences: it may, in some part be part of the nexus of causes that led to the Grenfell disaster.

    So the proposed idea of this 10000 property contribution strikes me as frankly idiotic. It doesn’t work for two basic reasons:

    1. £10000 toward a house deposit in a number of parts of the country (and I’m mostly thinking the south east here) is of limited use.
    2. All it will do is adjust house prices further upwards, as sellers will quickly realise that first timers have 10000 more to spend. It actually makes the problem worse.

    So it seems to be as if this is a tokenistic kite-flying proposal, looking to see what the response to other similar thinking might be.

    I feel sorry for young people now. You have been sold the myth of property-owning democracy without having the chance to participate. Not just that, but you’ve also been peddled the consumerist package: you can have whatever you want, and now . This is the culture instant gratification, and when you can’t get that, you are made to feel less worthy, a failure. It has to work like that, because if you don’t consume, the whole treadmill grinds to a juddering halt.

    When you can’t buy property your options are limited, so you are pushed into the private rental sector, which is just another way for a rapacious system to bleed money out of you. you are demonised by some older people who forget the advantages that were available to them, and castigate you for not enjoying the same. You have far less employment stability, and a benefits system that is far more hostile. Looking at places like France and Germany where longer term renting is more common, we see fewer of these issues (but they’re still there). The solutions are fairly obvious: let the local authority sector back into the market and let them build more affordable housing. But they can’t, partly because they are actively prevented form doing so by bone-head housing policy that relies on the market to provide (ho ho), and partly because austerity had streamed the local authorities of money so badly that they could hope to fund it anyway. But hey, who cares, because there are plenty of people making money from property, and doubtless tax efficiently too.

    Ever feel like you’ve been cheated?


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