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Middle-class children ‘face being poorer than parents’

Middle-class children will be less well off then their parents and grandparents, according to the commission. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Middle-class children will be less well off then their parents and grandparents, according to the commission. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

  • by ANDREW WHITAKER
 

CHILDREN from above-average income families face the worst standards of living in adulthood for the middle class in more than a century, with lower incomes and higher property prices, a government commission will warn this week.

Along with the most deprived, middle-class children will be less well off then their parents and grandparents, according to the social mobility and child poverty commission.

The stark warning about a sharp decline in living standards will be made later this week in the flagship report from the commission set up by Prime Minister David Cameron.

UK government initiatives have all too often been aimed at the poorest 10 per cent, the report’s authors will say, despite middle-class children also being in desperate need of attention due to a lack of life chances.

A “perfect storm” of graduate debt, lack of finance to buy homes and job insecurity that threatens middle-class children as they emerge from full-time education is also highlighted by the commission.

Debts of up to £50,000 for graduates leaving university and high levels of long-term unemployment among to 18-to 24-year-olds are also likely to affect middle-class living standards, it will say.

A fall of up to 60 per cent in home ownership among 25-to 34-year-olds over the last decade is highlighted in sections of the report leaked ahead of its publication.

The commission, chaired by former Labour health secretary Alan Milburn, will say that for the first time, a grandmother in her 80s can expect to enjoy higher living standards than someone in their 20s even if they are working, due to housing costs and poor wages.

A Whitehall source said: “This will be controversial, but for the first time in over a century there is a real risk that the next generation of adults ends up worse off than today’s generation. This is a problem for the children of parents with above-average incomes, not just a problem for those at the bottom. Many, many children face the prospect of having lower living standards than their parents.”

Frank Field, the UK government’s poverty tsar, said the alterations highlighted by the commission represented the “most dramatic change in a lifetime”.

Mr Field, a former Labour minister for welfare reform, said: “I’m amazed this has taken so long to come to the surface as it’s well established that things are worse for young people.”

The findings, to be laid before parliament on Thursday, will electrify the debate over the so-called “squeezed middle”.

Another key conclusion from the commission will claim that those at particular risk are low-attaining children who are not poor enough to enjoy extra help from the system, but whose parents are not wealthy enough to protect them from failure.

SNP MSP John Wilson said middle-class living standards were being eroded due to the UK government’s cuts and privatisation programme.”

 

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