Letter from James Marriott, published in The Times, London, 17 August 2019
“I don’t own a home, and like many people in their 20s I suspect I never will. The proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds who own a house has collapsed over the past 20 years, from 55% to 34%. Getting on the property ladder is famously hard in London, but the problem isn’t limited to the capital. In Greater Manchester, home ownership among that age group fell from 53% in 1984 to 26% in 2017; in South Yorkshire, it fell from 54% to 25% over the same period.
“The idea of never having a place to call one’s own, and always having to pay exorbitant rent, is “depressing” for millennials like me. But this trend also promises to have dire consequences for society as a whole. It’s no coincidence that the birth rate in England and Wales is at a record low. “Young people paying over the odds to live in grubby shared houses are understandably reluctant to start families.” Nor is it any wonder that many of them feel politically alienated as a result. It’s not a healthy or sustainable situation. Pity Generation Rent. “But remember their problems are yours too.”
On top of that many are working on short-term contracts, with no job security. They either have no work pensions, or, if they do they are bitty, small and inadequate. Yes, they (some or most of them) will be inheriting houses, and, presumably some capital from their parents, but by then it could be too late to have children. Most of my friends, by around 28, were married, had at least small apartments of their own, a mortgage and a first child (a generalisation. of course). This modern situation is a sign of political incompetence, total lack of forethought, and the overweening power of the modern capitalist system. Life really is stacked against the younger generation, and I for one can’t blame them for disillusionment. Some might comment that a smaller population is a good thing for the planet, but along with it comes political instability, no good thing for a calm, peaceful, fulfilling life. First off – build nice, affordable apartments, targeting young buyers.