“…public services are buckling under the strain of a decade of austerity”. Public spending is now more than £1 trillion per annum, 45% of GDP. Buckling under the stain of decades of mismanagement and inefficiency perhaps, but hardly of austerity. The author offers no suggestions to improve economic growth, other than building more houses in a country where the birth rate is far below replacement levels.
The author also prioritises new houses over infrastructure such as energy. We’re being threatened with blackouts and clearly don’t have the infrastructure in place to deal with what we already have, but by all means let’s place additional strain on the system, that’s the answer!
Although birth rate is less than replacement UK population is still increasing by about half a percent per year. It’s been increasing continuously since before 1960 apart from 1979 when it went to zero.
OBR are working on the assumption of 200k immigration a year for the next five years under post-Brexit visa rules, which would fill a bit of the remaining birth rate gap.
Fine if you think a falling birth rate is a bad thing.
Between 2007 and 2019 the population increased by at least ten percent. Meanwhile GDP per capita fell by around the same amount.
What does that tell you?
The taboo around questioning the benefits of immigration is now so strong that no journalist
– this one included – will even discuss the question, much less point to the obvious conclusion.
‘in a country where the birth rate is far below replacement levels.‘
You forget the 50% boost the ‘birth rate’ is getting from those young men in dinghies ably assisted by the RNLI and border force crossing the channel. They can’t all live in 4* hotels forever.
We have had the greatest influx of population in our recorded history, which shows no sign of easing and which all political parties are advocating should continue or further increase. How could there NOT be a housing crisis?
We have a property market open to price speculation and rent farming (not least through housing benefit to the aforementioned population influx) on a global, unrestricted scale. How could there NOT be a housing cost crisis?
How are these issues the sole responsibility of people long since gone from office, retired or dead? They continue to the present time.
No, “blame the wicked pensioners” is a lead-in to arbitrary wealth confiscation by the technocratic oligarchy.
One of the useful insights that Thomas Sowell brings to the table is the fact that people are not fixed in their categories as members of the rich or the poor or the young or the old but will often pass through such differing categories during their lifetime. So setting up the interests of the young and old for example is a false dichotomy given that the young inevitably become the old.
The problem of high rents and high house prices is the result of an increase in population as a result of a vast and rapid increase of population coming from outside the UK. It is not something any single generation wished for and it is perfectly understandable that those who have bought property do not want to see the environment of their property degraded by further development that will not benefit them or their relations.
“If you needed an indication of how likely the party is to face down its elderly voters, the triple lock on pensions was maintained in this Autumn Statement.”
The author seems to be suggesting that the Conservatives hold onto power because of a pensioner voting bloc. If there was such dissatisfaction then why didn’t the other generations collectively vote in Labour? It just seems absurd to believe that all pensioners are conservative, as it’s also absurd to think that if they were given less money things would come right. How would that change the cost of housing, the cost of living or wages? How would it create jobs or investment? And how much, exactly, do people think pensioners should really be receiving? What amount would make a difference to the countries problems?
They largely do. At the last election I believe only around 20% of youngsters voted for the Tories and you can understand why.
They’re facing ridiculous rents and house prices because the older generations sold all the council houses then prevented new homes being built. They’re enduring stagnant wages while facing heavy tax bills to pay for the end of life and healthcare costs of a demographic much more wealthy than themselves who have put nothing away to fund their twilight years, and then to top it off they watch the pension rise much faster than their wages ever will. All this after sacrificing years of money and their social life locking down to prevent the spread of a virus which by and large was only deadly to the elderly.
Unfortunately for the youngsters I don’t believe Labour will look after their interests either, but the Tories have been in power for over a decade so they rightly get the blame
These are pretty broad generalisations that don’t really tell me much.
When you’re discussing government policy at a national level you have to work on averages and broad demographics. I know poor pensioners and rich youngsters, however that doesn’t mean that is typical of those generations
I agree, but this for example: “ the older generations sold all the council houses”. Can that really be true?
A large proportion of the council housing stock was sold off, and this was done long before the current crop of youngsters came of age. Therefore I think it’s fair to say it was a policy enacted by the older generations
Okay. I thought you meant that the older generation having bought council houses then sold them off. But you may be suggesting the sale of council housing was a policy of that generation by their support for Thatcher.
Yes sorry, I was referring to the policies rather than individual actions
It would have been an even older generation still. 20 years before Mrs Thatcher became PM it was a policy commitment in the 1959 Labour Party Manifesto.
Which is why, as he suggested, voting Labour would do nothing to help the younger generation. They are anti Tory because they see their current conditions and a decade of Tory rule, but if the 18-30s manage to get Labour into power, they are going to be severely disappointed.
Those houses still stand people live in them and also the local authorities were supposed to use the money they received from selling council houses on building new ones but what did they do like they do today they wasted billions.
People still live in them yes, but an ever increasing percentage of the housing stock is owned by private landlords who simply extract the maximum they can from their tenants leaving nothing for the productive sectors of the economy that create jobs and growth
Margaret Thatcher sold council homes to those renting them and now many of those are rented out at too-high rents by private landlords.
Pensioners should receive an amount that is reflective of the contributions which they’ve made. This is currently not the case, the vast majority receive way more.
Pensions should only rise in line with wages, rather than the scandalous triple lock system. Any economic pain or benefits should be shared more evenly throughout society
I get a private pension and that keeps up with inflation because I’ve paid for it I also paid into the state pension for 50 years you’re wrong.
A private pension is completely different, that isn’t funded by the taxpayer so that isn’t an issue.
You also haven’t paid into the state pension for 50 years as that isn’t how they are funded. You paid (the much more meagre) pension of the preceding generations before you, there isn’t a pot of money put aside for your retirement it comes from general taxation.
The generally accepted deal was that the older generation would look after the young to help them get a foothold in life (council houses, free further education, job training etc), then the young would look after the old in retirement. However your generation removed all the assistance you received at the start of your working life for the next cohort as you didn’t want to pay for it, now expect youngsters to fund much more generous state pensions than you yourselves ever offered to the generation that came before.
And you have the cheek to call the youngsters entitled!
Back in 1965 a quarter of a million youngsters went to university now it’s over 2 and one half million they are they the same youngsters that don’t want to get their hands dirty and work on a building site like I did I did various different jobs in factories on the land you name it, you go look at any building sites now and you won’t see one indigenous working-class youngster they don’t want to do the farm work either I’ve done all that over my period of life, all I see the young doing is walking about with expensive iPhones p.s our state pensions are funded by ni contributions for every pound pension increase i receive I pay 20% back in income tax.
Funnily enough I’m a tradesman and I can assure you all the the sites I worked on were full of “indigenous” working class youngsters. Immigrants have been used as farm labourers for decades, and the work doesn’t pay enough to live on so you can’t blame the youngsters for not flocking to those jobs.
I’ll agree that too many now go to university, however again that isn’t necessarily the fault of the young. Many jobs that were once entry level and offered training are now advertised as needing graduates, so many are stuck between paying for an expensive degree in order to get a foot in the door or being stuck doing the minimum wage dead end jobs
I agree with you.
A rather bizarre generalisation. Some who have spent their life in idleness supported by the state might receive more than they have contributed, but surely those, who are probably the majority, who have denied themselves the pleasure of immediate consumption to save for the future will certainly not be receiving way more than their contribution and I can only wonder where you get such a notion?
I may have not made it clear, my comment relates to contributions in to the state pension not private ones.
“the vast majority receive way more.”
How have you come about this information?
The average household pay a total of £140k National Insurance contributions over their working life. Note that is a household total not per person, if you think that level of contribution would buy an index linked pension to the current value of the state pension, then please tell me where I can get that deal. I’m not having a dig at pensioners, as I’m one myself, I’m merely pointing out that the level we pay into the system is not reflective of what we receive, myself included.
“The average household pay a total of £140k National Insurance contributions over their working life.”
You don’t really believe that the £140k just sat in the bank doing nothing, do you?
I’ve paid NI now for 50 years I draw a pension from the state plus a private pension that I paid in for I still pay income tax and have done for 61 years The cash ISA that I keep in reserve for emergencies is depreciating at a rate of 11% per annum currently whilst I barely receive 2% interest Per annum this is been going on since 2008 devaluing the peoples savings what more do you want blood, Also the stupid artificial low interest rates over the last 14 years have fuelled a house price explosion that we the savers have paid for.
Your state pension is based on NI contributions, not income tax. Your NI also covers multiple things, NHS, insurance in case you become unemployed etc. and your state pension.
One of the reasons AndyFor our domestic economic crisis is the interest rates are ludicrously low from 2008 onwards leading to an Asset boom people buying houses with artificial low interest rates and others remortgaging and spending the money on foreign holidays nice cars etc who do you think paid for all that with loss of value in their savings its many savers and a lot of them are the boomers.
You’re wrong again I paid into both I paid into a private pension scheme and I paid into the state pension scheme in aid into the state pension scheme for 50 years and paid into the private pension scheme for 20 years they both pay nearly equal so what was the better deal you tell me.
It wasn’t just the selling off of social housing; it was the discontinuation of building new stock, a policy which continues to the present day…
“the anti-growth coalition of home-owning pensioners,”
What a miserable statement that is. And referencing another similar article doesn’t make it any more true.
Yes, I have noted an upsurge of journalists here targeting pensioners with opprobrious epithets. Yesterday’s article described them as selfish. We are all pensioners just not yet for many of us.
pensioners in the UK have to work longer and receive les than many in europe
This piece seems to propose that the main solution to current problems is to build more houses. It doesn’t begin to get to grips with the deep, structural problems which have been developing for decades. I don’t think its an exaggeration that the welfare state set up in the immediate aftermath of WWII, and expanded hugely since then with periods of sharp acceleration in the sixties and early 2000’s, is collapsing under the weight of social changes which it has itself to some degree (although not entirely) brought about. There is simply not enough real money in the country available to be collected by tax (and do not forget that for the uber rich, national taxation is essentially voluntary) to pay for the services and support required by the net beneficiaries of public expenditure. Some examples:
unemployment benefit, then supplementary benefit, then job-seeker’s allowance, then universal credit: this is the development of a payment originally designed to be a short term insurance type pay out to tide the unemployed over between jobs, into a long-term income, and regarded as such by its recipients.
in-work benefits have allowed employers to drive down wages with a tax-payer subsidy, and discouraged investment in training and technology in favour of using low productivity cheap labour.
the sale of council housing stock during the eighties has replaced a relatively cheap form of social housing provision with the expensive use of subsidies to landlords, and placed this element of public expenditure at the mercy of the market.
the NHS – well, where does one begin?
the growth of income inequalities as the poor are maintained on benefits (see above), and the wealthy enjoy the profits of their subsidised enterprises.
changes in social attitudes leading to a growth in single-parent households: the UK now has the largest number of single-parent households in Europe as a proportion of the population, This increases pressure on the housing stock, and unsurprisingly young mothers, predominantly poorly educated in any event, find it difficult to find work to support themselves and their children adequately, and their feckless male “partners” who have abandoned them (or who may never have been around for long in any event) do not feel any obligation to contribute: again, the state pays – this is called “support for families” in modern political parlance.
Now, post-covid but this may have been gestating for longer, we have c. 5 million on out of work benefits in spite of a very tight labour market, and learn that about 50,000 have left the workforce in the past month or so. We are told that many are not working on medical grounds: I suspect (we all do) that these medical grounds do not comprise the serious and obvious disabilities which justified long-term invalidity benefit in the past. Think rather social anxiety, depression, fatigue etc. There are many jobs – social care, crop picking are the obvious well-known examples – which the resident population simply do not want to do, seemingly at any price.
I could go on, but what’s the point? I genuinely don’t know how politically we can restructure our social, economic and fiscal arrangements to get off this spinning wheel of ever greater demands on the public finances when there is no money left. Buidling more houses is not the answer though.
Jonathan, you’re so right. The growth of benefits has become impossible to maintain. And now there are too many who can’t get by without it. So the government has created this great dependency which is paid for in votes. I really don’t see how anyone can manage this.
In the affluent part of the South East where I live people are selling their houses for 10-15 times what they paid for them in the eighties and using the spare cash to get their kids on the housing ladder and buy second homes in Spain.
At the same time, millions of middle class millennials will inherit in their fifties while their blue collar contemporaries will have to work into their eighties.
Welcome to the eighteenth century.
Why will they have to work into their eighties?
Because there will be no adequate state pension and no free healthcare. Rents will continue to rise until they reach 60-80% of average earnings.
What we’re witnessing is the largest upward transfer of wealth in our history accompanying the systematic destruction of our public services. it’s called neo-liberalism.
I’m a conservative and it’s taken me a long time to accept the truth of what I’ve described above – but I’m afraid it’s inescapable.
You’ll lose it if you don’t fight for it now.
THERE IS NO FREE HEALTH CARE.
There never was.
We pay for it alright and it was pretty bad before the COOF. Just look at it now.
Do you mean they are Downsizing or moving to an area with much cheaper housing if not where are they living.
Well said Mr Dickson, an absolutely pathetic performance by Jeremy Hunt & Co, but only to be expected since their total collapse in the face of COVID. They have sown, now WE shall reap.
“Public spending is now more than £1 trillion per annum, 45% of GDP.”* Why has this not been slashed? Whatever happened to the ‘Bonfire of the Quangos etc? Answer : Zilch!
We need to offer the Chancellorship to Mr Musk, and allow him to ‘savage’ the Public Sector and in particular the worthless Home Office, as he has savaged and is savaging the Twitter beast.
More tea Vicar?
(* Thank you Stephen Walsh Esq.)
Constantly harping on about how building is the only answer to our economic woes. So, what happens when there is no more room to build? And much that makes this island special is ruined? Let’s not pretend, we know that the building is for future immigrants, seeing as our native population is decreasing. But that ever increasing circle is self defeating. Far better to invest in AI and other technology less man power dependent.
What annoys me is that there’s a huge amount of redundant brownfield land / empty premises that could be repurposed for housing, with existing infrastructure in place. Many of the old cotton mills in my region have been converted into quite pleasant housing, usually alongside rejuvenated canals, but there’s plenty more that haven’t as yet. If the remaining structures are dangerous, just knock them down and start from the ground up, they’re huge sites. Only when all such possible alternatives have been exhausted should greenfield sites be considered.
Agreed. And more social housing and all buildings to be totally eco friendly.
Oh, why don’t you just say what you really mean: Those d*mn home-owning pensioners are living too long! Just die already so we can take the stuff you worked all your life for.
Their longevity is in no small measure due to the NHS, whose resources they’re also “draining”!
You also, in your time, will come to ‘drain’ the resources of the NHS. If you have a healthy lifestyle that is.
Something like three quarters of all the money spent on health is consumed during the last half year of a person’s life.
Euthanasia would be the greatest money saver for the NHS. Or a fleet of buses for people to fall under.
Short of these solutions what would you advocate, Steve? I ask sincerely, not as a ‘gotcha’ because I don’t know what the answer can be.
I spent my working life in the NHS Michael, and my comment was clearly indicated as ironic with the use of inverted commas.
They are bringing in a form of culling for the sick and the old in Justin Trudeau’s fascist state of Canada.
Two of my grandparents, born in 1899 – almost 30 years before the discovery of penicillin – lived into their 90s. There was no NHS. My father-in-law, a Soviet slave before he emigrated to Canada, then to the US, died at 91. Also no NHS, and he had never taken a prescription drug in his long life. He re-roofed his entire house at age 88. These strong, valuable, loved people were in no possible measure a “drain” on anyone. Quite to the contrary, they enriched their families and communities immeasurably. If you live as long, I hope someone will think that of you.
Allison, you too have missed the irony in my comment, indicated by the use of inverted commas. It i’d meant it otherwise, i wouldn’t have used them.
Ah. Mea culpa.
This is something people forget. Previous generations contributed more than just tax payments. When people demand to know what they contributed in relation to what they receive as a pension they should consider the communities they built and sustained. Those brick homes people live in were built brick by brick by the labour of past generations. They raised children, built parks and created reserves which we enjoy today. They passed on the values which held things together. Many died or were injured in harsh work environments. Most thought they were building a better future for their children.
Is that the same national service that’s been bumping off the elderly left right and centre either deliberately or by neglect this country is a disgrace.
The NHS probably ends more people through neglect than it saves
The main cause of the lack of housebuilding is not resistance from middle class pensioners and defects in the planning system (though some do exist) but the attitudes and practices of the major housebuilders. Housebuilders own land banks that, if utilised, would far exceed the UK’s housebuilding targets, and much of this already has planning permission.
However, they refuse to develop them for two main reasons, Firstly, they want to restrict supply in order to keep house prices up. Secondly, they are unwilling to meet demands to build an acceptable proportion of affordable homes as the profit margins on such homes are too low.
There is clear need to bring housebuilding under state-led strategic control through the creation of a national housing developer that would break the power of companies such as Barrett, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon.
Quite a lot here I agree with but one has to question the economic analysis of anyone who thinks a decade of annual real-terms increases in public spending equals austerity.
Why are comments on this innocuous topic being subject to such stringent censorship?
In this case “flash to bang” of two hours!
It’s so easy to criticize and especially easy when you are not the one actually making the decisions. More people and more Govt. departments want/need more. How without excessive borrowing that burdens the young ? These are tough times not only here in the UK but around the world. We need to hunker down and grind our way through it. At least Hunt seems to have more economic acumen than Truss.
Hunt had a disastrous tenure as health secretary.He has no business being anywhere near government.He openly admires the Chinese Communist Party.Both he and Sunak will kill off the Tories for good.
The majority of British people are too illiterate and dense to understand that the public sector ” income tax” take is a sham and a con, as it is merely employees rebating what the government pays them in the first place, yet is counted as ” Income to HM Treasury”!
” Public servants pay tax too.”
Is something we hear all of the time.
Really, do they ? How many of them actually do any work of real value ?
That’s an interesting point. I wonder what the “taxed” take is?
And the point is?
In fact lots of private sector jobs are heavily dependent on Government spending purchasing the products or services they provide. To follow your logic they are also just rebating what the Govt pays them.
That aside, public sector includes HM Armed Forces. It includes doctors, teachers, Police, Border Force etc etc. Are you suggesting all inappropriate public expenditure, or perhaps just pay them less and exempt them from tax? It’s not entirely clear.
Well done, Watson, thanks for pointing that out. I had no idea that HM forces were part of the public sector.
And another thing, why are teachers part of
the public sector at all ?
Ah a bit of irony to go with the ignorance. It’s not all bad then.
“And the point is?”
The point is very clear. What public servants pay in tax contributes nothing to government coffers because that’s where their pay came from.
Still a confusing statement. I think you may be attempting to imply that if we ceased paying all public servants somehow Govt coffers would be healthy, or healthier. Of course reality is society would implode, crime would explode, the ability of business and industry to function would collapse etc, the ability to defend ourselves would end, kids wouldn’t get schooling and so on. In such circumstances Govt coffers are v likely to radically reduce. I think you probably have a v simplistic view of what is required to have a functioning society and environment which allows capitalism to thrive. There is always an argument about whether some public spending is as necessary, and the workforce that may go with it. But your point comes across as just bit silly.
“I think you may be attempting to imply that if we ceased paying all public servants somehow Govt coffers would be healthy, or healthier.”
No I’m not implying that. Read the original comment carefully. It’s about tax.
Isn’t the Great Brexit Idea to get rid of public services?
Could you find me a quote from a Brexit supporter who wanted to scrap public services? In fact leaving the EU actually allows the UK in invest more into public services and key state assets as they’re no longer bound by EU debt or state aid laws.
The decisions on public services are the fault of domestic politics, and completely unrelated to leaving a political bloc
In a word, NO.