As the generations gather around the Christmas dinner table this year, there may be an elephant floating over the turkey and sprouts in many dining rooms up and down the land – an elephant that wants to know the answer to a rather important question?
So, what happened to all the money?
This is a question directed at the grandparents – those post-war baby boomers growing up in a Britain that had “never had it so good”.
Well, the good times are over now. A study published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies finds that children born in the 1960s and ’70s will be worse off than their parents when they retire, as the post-war trend for each generation to be richer than the previous dies.
Those aged 34-53 are suffering, says the IFS, because of inadequate pay rises, crippling housing costs, and the prospect of paltry pensions to come. These are the people that the Government constantly refers to as “hard-working families”. But where is all this hard work getting us?
The IFS report says that a switch from well-funded company pension schemes is damaging the finances of those born in the ’60s and ’70s. In contrast, their parents continue to benefit from superior pensions.
This chimes with my experience and that of my friends, whose parents have retired on pensions at least as large as their offsprings’ current annual salary, and in some cases, double it. No wonder these 70-somethings can afford to go on cruises and wander up and down Marks & Spencer’s Food Halls, loading their trollies with Gastropub ready-meals.
Meanwhile, their children struggle to meet mortgage and fuel bills, let alone find money for school trips and an Xbox One for Christmas. Is it any wonder if there is resentment curling around the party crackers this year?
Many 34 to 53-year-olds are relying on inheritance to save them from a bleak old age, but with today’s 70-somethings fitter than ever and expected to live longer than ever, there’s plenty of time for gran and grandpa to blow the lot on holidays and cars before they settle into an astronomically priced nursing home, paid for with whatever is left of the equity in their own home.
As “Bah Humbug” as it sounds, my generation could be forgiven for thinking that’s it’s all been rather “easy come, easy go” for our parents. To borrow a phrase from the dear old buffers, they don’t know they’re born.
There’s no point in being bitter. Prospects for our own children look even worse, saddled with student loan debts and finding it frighteningly tough to step onto the property ladder.
They will be expecting us to help them. And it’s up to us to make sure that, somehow, we can do so.