Who Can Lead And Deliver Innovation For All Ages?

Who Can Lead And Deliver Innovation For All Ages?

The fallout from the 2017 general election continues. Politics seems to be veering off the radar, with the government directionless and the opposition heading hard left.

But at last there is recognition that gaping divisions between the generations must be healed to build a stronger Britain.

So far the Tories have offered tinkering with student funding and more support for Help to Buy. This scattergun approach is not targeted at those most needing help and will make little difference to the intergenerational fairness grievances around wealth, housing and debt.

Radical action is needed to build more affordable homes than at any time in our history; implement taxes on wealth that will bring greater fairness to our taxation system; and replace student tuition fees with more progressive income tax.

Political parties have long skewed policies towards older people, because their turnout at elections has been much higher than younger people. But given the higher turnout in 2017 amongst younger people, policymaking needs to shift towards future generations.

Will Labour or the Tories be able to lead and make this transformation happen?

In doing so, there are five areas that policymakers need to address with innovation to build a country for all ages:

1) Developing a new social contract between the generations: with guarantees on pensions, health, care and housing for the taxpayers of today, underpinned by transparency and a better understanding about the financial pressures facing each generation from pension entitlements to debt;

2) Supporting better communication between generations: establishing a national council for all ages supported by an intergenerational convention bringing older and younger people together from across the country to discuss big issues of mutual concern like welfare reform, housing and climate change;

3) Establishing a commission on fair taxation: intergenerational fairness must be underpinned by fairer taxation that redistributes from the wealthiest older people to the poorest youngsters; fairer taxation will shift the balance of taxation from income to wealth to reduce the burden on those of working age, end anomalies that favour older people like national insurance, review inheritance tax and include tough action on tax evasion;

4) Creating housing and care for all ages: a massive housebuilding drive, with at least 300,000 affordable homes a year, needs to be complemented by more retirement housing to give older people options to move, thereby freeing up more family-sized homes; this could be boosted by tax incentives to downsize, such as exemptions on stamp duty; Homeshare schemes should be scaled up to enable older people with spare rooms to let them to younger people in exchange for practical support and companionship; the reform of care needs to be funded through fair taxation as above;

5) Creating shared spaces for all ages: making better use of community facilities and bringing people of different ages together; children's centres and schools, care homes and retirement villages, and other age-related centres could become community hubs, meeting places and service delivery points for people of all ages, that also increase contact and understanding between the generations; shared spaces and interests can enable people of different ages to spend meaningful time together by opening up community facilities from universities to older people's housing schemes for all ages and co-locating childcare and eldercare schemes.

The generational divide in political attitudes reflects a wider lack of trust and understanding between older and younger people. Britain is increasingly divided by age and by generation. Ending age apartheid and promoting social integration between generations can help build communities and a country for all ages, where we are united not divided.

Tackling intergenerational inequity is the challenge of our times. Economic measures are required urgently to address the housing crisis and develop fairer taxation. But we also need to bring older and younger people together in new ways to discuss mutual concerns and provide shared spaces which can promote stronger understanding and trust between people of all ages.

This is the time for innovation. Who will lead and deliver it for all ages?


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