Socialist Party
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5 October 2016

UK workers born in early 1980s half as wealthy as those born in 1970s

James Clopp

People born in the early 1980s are half as well-off as those born in the 1970s were at their age. This won't come as any surprise to today's 30-somethings.

A new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows rising rent and house prices, combined with stagnating wages, put home ownership beyond the reach of many who have entered the workplace since 2000.

Certainly, from my own experience, the idea that you could save 30,000 - while the majority of your meagre salary is swallowed up by rent - seems impossible.

Leaving housing in the hands of private landlords and building firms has meant younger people are held to ransom. Not enough houses are built. Many lie deliberately vacant to keep prices high, while speculation in the property market drives rent higher and higher.

When I tell my friends that in the '80s, tenants could appeal to rent boards run by the local council to fix fair rents or guarantee tenure, they are incredulous! These are the kind of policies we need to escape the rent trap, along with a return to a mass council housing building programme.

The report also points out that pension entitlements have dropped dramatically for children born after 1980. We now face the nightmare scenario of heading into retirement with very little savings, while seeking housing in a hostile rental market.

We can start to turn this around by getting organised in trade unions, and fighting for higher pay and better pensions. In the longer term, we need to fight for a government with socialist policies.

The wealth hoarded by the capitalist elite should be taken off them, and used instead to guarantee everyone access to housing, and a dignified working life and retirement.