Ministers criticised as study finds millennials most 'short-changed' generation since the war
Young millennials are on course to pay more towards the UK state while receiving less in return than any other post-war generation, a major new study has found.
It revealed that while all groups born since 1931 received more support in education, health and benefits than they have paid in taxes throughout their lives, those born in 1996 would get less than half than those born in the 1950s.
The Resolution Foundation found that co-called “baby boomers” born after the Second World War would receive a "welfare dividend" of £291,000 over the course of their lives, while those born towards the end of the 20th century would get just £132,000.
Ahead of next month’s general election, former Tory minister Lord Willetts, who heads the think tank, said politicians had “exacerbated” the age divide by tilting the welfare state in favour of older people through the introduction of benefits like free TV licences..
The findings form part of an updated edition of The Pinch, which the peer first wrote ahead of the 2010 election, and which warned that younger generations risked losing out.
Lord Willetts said: "When I first wrote The Pinch 10 years ago, I wanted to sound a warning siren that huge intergenerational injustices were opening up across Britain, and that young people were losing out while my generation was doing well.
“Ten years on, those divides have got worse. Young people been short-changed by a lack of decent pay growth, a lack of decent, affordable homes, and a state that expects them to pay more in order to receive less.
“Britain’s generational divides are affecting our living standards, and how we vote. Our political parties should use the upcoming election to start healing these divides with a policy programme that appeals to and benefits young and old alike.”
One reason for the gap, the report said, is because there are fewer millennial taxpayers around to fund public services compared with previous generations, while the "boomers" will consume more in health and pension-related benefits over the coming decade.
It also highlighted age as becoming “the dominant divide” in elections, with 30-year-olds twice as likely to back Labour over the Conservatives, with 70-year-olds twice as likely to do the opposite.
Lord Willetts, who served as universities minister under David Cameron, said the parties were more likely to win “big election majorities” by building "cross-generational coalitions of support".
He said governments needed to focus on policies such as tackling the housing crisis, helping young people build up savings, and securing a sustainable funding system for social care "that is fair to all generations".
Responding to the report, shadow youth affairs minister, Cat Smith, said: “These damning facts confirm that generational progress has ground to a halt under the Tories.
“A decade of austerity has made life much harder for young people, who are denied the opportunities enjoyed by their parents' generation."