Housing figures released last week reveal in 2020 record numbers of people will require financial support from their parents to access housing. For members of one generation to be dependent upon handouts from the last is bad enough, the fact only better-off parents will be able to afford that support is just one of the reasons why over the decade of our current Government’s rule the number of Brits who believe our country gives everyone an equal chance of success has dropped from 53% to less than a third. If over two-thirds of the UK believe people’s chances of success are no longer determined by how hard they work, but who their parents are, something has clearly gone seriously wrong.
It doesn’t have to be this way. This month, the first people to benefit from Child Trust Funds turn eighteen and will be able to access the money put aside for them by the last Labour Government to help fund their education, get a home of their own, or start their own business.
For every child born after September 2002, until the Conservatives closed the scheme in 2011, the Government put money into an account their parents could open with a financial services provider using a voucher sent out by the Government. For children whose parents didn’t use their voucher, the Government set up an account for them.
Parents and others could pay more money into the account too, subject to an annual cap. Children with disabilities were entitled to extra annual payments into their Trust Fund from the Government, recognising the extra needs young adults with disabilities face. The policy was simple but important: every young person should have the same opportunity to get started in life that children in wealthier families took for granted.
The contrast with the Government we have today is stark. People turning eighteen in 2020 saw the fiasco over their A-level results and face the sad truth that in accessing employment or housing, their chances are determined more by their backgrounds now than at any other time since WWII, that equality of opportunity in our country is going backwards.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council