Youth suffer as older Britons prosper: Study

Pedestrians in London's Canary Wharf district on Oct 29, 2015.
Pedestrians in London's Canary Wharf district on Oct 29, 2015. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON (AFP) - Young people have become Britain's new underclass as the gap widens between them and older Britons in terms of pay, jobs and access to housing, a new report said on Friday (Oct 30).

The report on inequality and human rights found that people under the age of 34 faced the "worst economic prospects for several generations".

"While - contrary to what many people believe - overall income inequality has declined over the period, a new divide has opened up: between the young and older people," the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report said.

"During the recession and up to 2013, people under 34 experienced the steepest fall in incomes and (especially for those aged 16-24) employment, less access to decent housing and better-paid jobs, and deepening poverty. Despite recent improvements they have yet to recover to pre-recession levels."

The unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 was 14.8 per cent for the three-month period ended in late August 2015, against 13.8 per cent at the end of February 2008, before the global financial crisis.

The report, covering the last five years and titled "Is Britain Fairer?", said living standards had improved for older Britons over the same period.

Britain's Conservative government has been in power since 2010, and has faced accusations that it caters mainly to older Britons, who tend to vote for the right-leaning party, a charge the Conservatives deny.

The report also explores inequalities in education, health, justice and gender, among Britons of different social and ethnic backgrounds.

It found that there had been improvements since 2010, including a reduction in infant mortality and the number of homeless people, as well as the introduction of gay marriage.

Responding to the report, a government spokesperson said "good progress" had been made in boosting jobs and raising wages.

"But we know there is still some way to go to fix the issues highlighted in this report."