Britain’s wealth could be used to revolutionise work and welfare, tackling intergenerational unfairness and giving people of all ages the chance to contribute to the country’s success, according to a new paper published by United for All Ages.
‘Investing in the future – wealth, work and welfare in a multi-generational society’ sets out how welfare and work could be reformed, using tax funding raised from Britain’s wealthiest people and companies. The paper proposes six ways to tax wealth to give all children a good start in life, reduce youth unemployment, support families with childcare and eldercare, and enable older people to play a full part in society.
21st century Britain is a country of great contrasts: as most families struggle with declining living standards, wealth has become increasingly concentrated with more than 90% of the country’s wealth owned by people aged over 45. There are 619,000 millionaires, up from 528,000 in 2008 with the millionaire population set to grow by a third by 2020, while unemployment amongst both women and young people has reached more than one million. Almost a third of children live in poverty while the combined wealth of the 1,000 richest people in Britain rose £60bn in the last year to nearly £400bn.
Many of Britain’s long-standing social and economic problems – from alienation to isolation, social immobility to worklessness – could be addressed by solutions involving all ages and bringing different generations together. Key proposals in ‘Investing in the future’ for getting Britain to work better for all ages include:
- A ‘next generation’ fund to help young people into work, paid for by National Insurance contributions from older people working longer, with a focus on employment in care, health, education, transport and housing
- A lifelong care policy which supports families from childcare to eldercare, reducing the cost of care and helping families to balance work and care
- An ‘ActionAge’ programme maximising older people’s contributions through work, volunteering, care and mentoring
- Education and volunteering opportunities to nurture young people’s skills, confidence, energy and employability
- Employers ‘thinking all ages’ in recognising the contributions of different generations and avoiding intergenerational conflict in the workplace
- Early intervention where families face difficulties, family mentors for troubled children and support for extended families to care
- Investing in affordable homes to create jobs, providing decent homes for extended family carers, encouraging the growth of Homeshare and downsizing where appropriate
- Bringing generations together through centres for all ages and common interests, and providing volunteering opportunities in multi-generational projects for people on benefits
The ‘Investing in the future’ paper argues that these proposals could be paid for by taxing wealth: from income and inheritance to capital gain and corporate taxation, as well as reducing tax avoidance.
Using wealth is the key to unlocking our country’s potential and ensuring that all generations can contribute to and benefit from future success. Older people have much more they could contribute if they were encouraged; young people could do much more if they were given the chance; multi-generational families would do much more if they had the time, support and resources.
As many people feel the pinch in Britain, it is only right that our wealth and resources are shared collectively and fairly for all ages. The economic returns of intervening early will be long-term but we cannot afford not to take action now. We are all interdependent and mutually responsible. Intergenerational fairness should underpin smarter taxes and smarter spending. We must be ambitious and invest in the future: through prevention and early intervention, supporting the next generation, and ensuring our legacy for a Britain for all ages.
Stephen Burke is director of the social enterprise, United for All Ages. The paper, Investing in the future – work, wealth and welfare in a multi-generational society, can be downloaded from www.unitedforallages.com.