In a week when further education became nothing more than a burdensome debt obligation and stats on home-ownership confirmed how unattainable buying a house has become, we must ask ourselves; what are we doing for our youth?
Major English cities have seen the sharpest falls in home ownership since a peak in the early 2000s, according to new analysis, with homes becoming increasingly unaffordable for struggling potential buyers. West Yorkshire, the metropolitan area of the West Midlands and outer London recorded double-digit falls, with the proportion of home owners in Greater Manchester dropping from 72 per cent in April 2003 to 58 per cent this year!
While accepting that home ownership was rather a national obsession, The Resolution Foundation noted that those in the private rented sector spent more of their income on housing than their owners, and there was more insecurity in short-term tenancies.
Stephen Clarke, the foundation’s policy analyst, said: “The shift to renting privately can reduce current living standards and future wealth, with implications for individuals and the state.
“We cannot allow other cities to edge towards the kind of housing crisis that London has been saddled with.”
I, like most people my age, can empathise. Not only is home ownership completely unattainable for me – the typical value of a home in Greater London now stands at £600,076 according to Land Registry data – I’m also being screwed by the rental sector.
Last week I moved from a one bed apartment to a studio to cut down living costs, but had to stump up £2,937.02 for the privilege! That included a £75 referencing fee, £100 administration fee and a £90 fee just to check in to the house. Not to mention the absurd fees charged by my previous estate agency – mentioning no names (CHASE BUCHANAN, CHASE BUCHANAN, CHASE BUCHANAN) – when moving out of my previous place.
And I consider myself fortunate. I left university with a manageable amount of debt and had help from my parents to bridge the gap when moving house. But there’s a lot of people out there who aren’t as fortunate. Students today will leave university with nearly £20,000 more debt, on average, than in 2014, with a whopping £44,035 to pay back.
What’s more, starting from this week the most vulnerable students from families with annual incomes of £25,000 or less will no longer be able to apply for the £3,387-a-year grant to cover living costs. Instead, they will be forced to apply for a maintenance loan which “basically punishes poorer students simply for being poor”, NUS vice-president Sorana Vieru told BBC Breakfast.
Punishing the poor for being poor is one thing, but punishing our youth for being young is the next social catastrophe we have to face as a nation. With student debt bulging and home ownership unattainable, we must ask ourselves; what are we doing for our youth?