Tag Archives: intergenerational inequality

Liberal Democrats should oppose making over 65s pay NHI contributions

Yesterday’s media was heavy with the recommendations of the Resolution Foundation’s “Intergenerational Commission”. The Commission, which was set up and chaired by former Tory minister, Lord Willetts, is “backed” by the CBI, TUC and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It’s an important contribution to the debate on many big problems our society faces. At first site, much of it seems sensible to and worthy of deeper reading. But there’s one policy I believe Liberal Democrats should oppose.

The Commission proposes that people of pension age who are still working should continue to pay National Insurance contributions. It argues that the measure would raise around £2 billion a year.

My instinct tells me that the majority of those still working full-time beyond retirement age are doing so out of necessity; mainly the poor and the self-employed. They need the money.

The Willetts’ plan will make the self-employed poorer at a time of life when they find it harder and harder to win business, particularly if physical labour is involved. The less money coming into an already financially weak household the more likely mental and physical illness and other social problems.

I oppose the Willetts plan because I think it wrong, unfair and will cause more harm than good. I think too that Liberal Democrats should oppose it because we should be champions of the self-employed.

We believe in the power of enterprise, business and trade to create wealth, foster stability and harness science and technology to build a better world. We believe that individuals should have the freedom to be self-sufficient and run and manage their lives how they wish, free as much as possible from the dead hand of the state. We believe small businesses are fundamental to our national economic success.

Posted in Op-eds | 41 Comments

Housing – where should it go?

I’ve been doing some research into housing as it has become a hot topic in Oxfordshire where I am a county councillor.

Young people want to get on the property ladder but can’t, houses are just not affordable.

Keyworkers wish to take jobs but can’t afford to live locally.

Our social housing register in Oxford city has over 3000 people on it.

There is a housing crisis, but it won’t be solved by landowners building houses which can only be afforded by London commuters.

At the same time, government is pushing for growth in the south – we have a Growth Board in Oxfordshire which comprises all the district, city and county councils, and we have just signed a Growth Deal with government which commits us to building 96K homes in Oxfordshire up to 2031.

But shouldn’t we be growing our economy in the north? The country is already unbalanced, and it will become even more so if plans to build a million more houses along the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Arc proceed. The National Infrastructure Commission report on that proposal is here. On p. 28 there is a chart showing housing planned for 2016-2050: 130K extra houses for Oxfordshire as “additional development required to meet corridor-level housing need”, plus another 70K homes for Oxfordshire required “to reflect pressures from land constrained
markets”.

To get my head around this topic, I’ve been looking at recent government data on where houses need to go across the country as a whole. It includes economic growth and population analysis. Evidently, we don’t need as many houses in Oxfordshire as the last Strategic Housing Market Assessment of 2014 shows. However, all local plans are using the SHMA figures, not latest government figures.

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Inequality – it’s getting worse

The Office for National Statistics published data yesterday on economic well being. One of the main points from the ONS report was on household property wealth. This data shows that we now have even more inequality between generations. The report reads

The gap in net household property wealth between those aged 30 to 32 and 60 to 62 years has widened in the last 10 years; the net household property wealth of those aged 60 to 62 years was six times that of those aged 30 to 32 years during July 2006 to June 2008, however, this difference increased to 17 times by July 2014 to June 2016.

Also, research showed that consumers’ perceptions of their own financial situation has worsened for three consecutive quarters.

In Quarter 4 2017, the average aggregate balance was negative 1.6 – a decrease from positive 0.7 recorded in Quarter 4 2016. The chart shows a steady drop over the last two years.

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We Are More Unequal Than Ever

My dismay over inequality was one of the two main issues (the other poor mental health care provision) which drove me into politics in 2014. I jumped in with both feet, determined to be a voice for the voiceless and make the world a more equal place.

But here we are in 2017 and the IPPR report just out shows we are more unequal than ever. The report was commissioned by Channel 5 to mark the launch of the second series of Rich House, Poor House, which sees two families from opposite ends of the wealth divide switch places. The …

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Opinion: Generational strife – where’s the fairness?

The budget does make clear where society’s priorities lay. Cuts to incomes and services of the youngest and poorest, yet tax breaks and protected services for many of the oldest and wealthiest. Tax credits, housing benefit, student grants all sacrificed to reduce the deficit, yet inheritance tax, fuel allowances and state pensions are deemed too important to feel the knife. Why?

The answer of course, is that old people vote in record numbers. None of us who spend time trying to win elections doubt the wisdom of bending to the grey vote, but it is hard to defend. Today’s retirees worked through years of rapid wage and house price inflation, benefited from unsustainably generous final salary pension schemes, and enjoyed the full flowering of the welfare state. In contrast today’s graduates face years of paying off student debts before even dreaming of owning a home, will have to work longer for lower pensions, and are in competition with often better educated people from the four corners of the globe. And to top it all the older generation has bequeathed a national debt that now tops £1.5 trillion, on which the younger generation must pay interest for the next 40 years.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 21 Comments
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