Younger Generation's Prospects to Be Studied by U.K. Lawmakers

  • Work and Pensions Committee to probe generational wealth gap
  • Panel to consider implication of government pension policies

U.K. lawmakers will examine whether the younger generation faces a less secure future in retirement in a probe of “intergenerational fairness” and look at the potential impact on the government’s pension and welfare policies.

Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee will look into whether current or soon-to-be retirees have over the course of their lifetime accumulated much more housing and financial wealth and pension entitlements and enjoyed more benefits and use of public services than more recent generations can hope to receive. The panel made its announcement in a statement Wednesday.

Those born in the middle of the so-called baby boom, between 1956 and 1961, are forecast to receive 118 percent of what they contribute in welfare from the state, while younger people are on course to have less wealth at each point in their lives than earlier generations had acquired by the same age, according to research examined by the committee. The panel will consider how much this is due to government policies, such as guaranteed pension increases, or to economic and demographic trends, and identify potential action that could be taken.

“Is it fair and affordable to divert a large and growing sum of public expenditure toward pensioners -- regardless of their circumstances -- while mainly poor families with children face year-on-year restrictions on their income?” said Frank Field, the opposition Labour Party lawmaker who heads the committee. The panel “hopes to learn from voters of all ages what they believe to be both fair and affordable, so we can propose ways of restoring confidence across all generations in the welfare state.”

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