“When I went to a financial advisor, she strongly hinted at framing my mortgage on which of my loved ones might die in the next few years,” Iris James*, 30, tells HuffPost UK, as a new report reveals two thirds (66%) of millennials expect to receive an inheritance from their parents and 34% cite it as their only chance of financial security and the way they plan to fund their future lifestyle.
The new study not only highlights young people’s lack of financial dependency from their elders, say experts, but furthers inequality for those whose parents are not home owners or do not have assets to give.
“It leaves swathes of people worse off, entrenches inequality, and stifles social mobility,” Reuben Young, director of housing campaign Priced Out tells HuffPost UK. “And it is appalling that successive governments have allowed the housing crisis to get so bad that parental homeownership is now the primary way to buy a home yourself.”
The survey by First Direct found two thirds (66%) expect to inherit around £80,000 from their families, with more than two fifths (43%) planning to use the lump sum to pay outstanding debts. As a result, one in five (19%) of the 2000 respondents asked are not currently saving from their own salaries, instead choosing to wait for the windfall.
“All millennials should be able to build up their own assets rather than just those lucky enough to come from wealthier families able to access the brick-rich Bank of Mum and Dad,” says Angus Hanton, cofounder of Intergenerational Foundation, working to establish fairness between the generations.
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James says: “How has it come to this? The only way someone earning an average salary can get their foot on the property ladder is by losing a loved one. The exchange on my flat is about to complete but it’s bittersweet because the only reason I got there is because I lost my dad.”
Not only are people earmarking the funds for paying off debts and giving them financial security, but nearly a quarter (24%) think it will allow them to retire earlier than they could otherwise.
This is also having an impact on millennial’s relationship with their parents, with a fifth admitting they worry about parents damaging the total by spending.
The exchange on my flat is about to complete but it's bittersweet because the only reason I got there is because I lost my dad...' Iris James
So what can millennials do to improve their prospects without waiting for a pay out? Nick Harrison, head of products at First Direct, said the best thing is to save. “Rather than an inheritance, the best way to plan for your financial future is to prioritise regular saving.”
But with many young people carrying plenty of debt - the Student Loans Company estimates two thirds of millennials who went to university will never pay off their debts - it might take a wider change rather than individual.
Hanton suggests the only way to tackle this is government policy. “The introduction of millennial-friendly policies, such as reducing 9% student debt repayment rates, lowering national insurance levels for the under-30s, or encouraging the nation to fall out of love with rising house prices, could help.”
*Names have been changed on request