From women’s rights to generational inequality, there is still much to do
There are three fundamental issues that we must strive to solve if we are going to secure the future prosperity of all generations: the nation’s health; protecting our equality laws; and the housing crisis.
We must re-evaluate what it means to create a healthy society. I do not just mean healthy in the physical sense, although this must be a priority. The NHS has become an illness service and more of its budget will likely be spent on type 2 diabetes than all cancers by 2035 – this is both unsustainable and unaffordable. But, crucially, we must address the health of our children’s lives.
Children now have access to a profoundly unhealthy online world. We must protect the declining mental health of children and young people by safeguarding them properly – a principle which should be fundamental to any responsible society. The Online Safety Bill goes far in addressing some of these issues, and is bolstered by the government’s review into illegal and hardcore pornography which will identify gaps in the law.
The economy is doing better than most expected, yet one in eight households are still jobless. Employment is a fundamental social determinant of health, with positive effects on both physical and mental health. Getting people into work should be a priority, not just for the economy, but because it contributes to a healthy and thriving society.
Women’s rights, hard won over hundreds of years of campaigning, appear to be under threat once again
Secondly, women’s rights, hard won over hundreds of years of campaigning, appear to be under threat once again. The government must always prioritise facts over belief. Impartiality should always be the basis from which government departments and institutions operate.
Equality laws protect everyone, not just a privileged few – this is a principle many of our public institutions appear to have forgotten. Most seem more concerned with not offending certain groups than actually getting on with the job in hand – whether that’s looking after the health of the nation or protecting the country against crime.
Having reached the end of his first year as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, it is clear that Sir Mark Rowley is moving away from woke policing in favour of a more traditional, common sense approach. This includes dealing with the disruption of Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion, and the shoplifting epidemic.
Thirdly, housing is a major concern for young people – most of whom have little prospect of being able to afford their own home for years, if not decades, after their parents and grandparents bought theirs. Existing homeowners are generally older, wealthier and benefit hugely from persistent increases in house prices.
This is exacerbating intergenerational tensions. The expectation that house prices will continue to rise puts the burden on a young would-be owner to always stump up the extra cost. And since younger people have to save for longer to get on the property ladder, they are also transferring more and more of their wealth to the already propertied in the form of rent.
These are not merely pecuniary concerns: as a consequence of acquiring property later, young people are settling down later and having fewer children, again, later. To ensure our young people feel vested in the future we must find answers to building more homes.
Conservative peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington
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