Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Leave Us Alone, We've Got Big Enough Debts as It Is

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Leave Us Alone, We've Got Big Enough Debts as It Is

Article excerpt

Byline: Rosamund Urwin

WON'T today's teenagers suffer enough, Mr Lambert? On top of bearing the brunt of a decade of financial mismanagement by their elders, the director general of the CBI believes that they should pay more to go to university.

The one group that played no part in wrecking the economy -- and didn't get to enjoy the boom years -- doesn't deserve this hefty penalty.

Long, long ago, when Richard Lambert was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, Balliol came for free. Moreover, when he finished his degree in the 1960s, houses were cheap and pensions were generous.

When I left university in 2005, I owed the student loan company around [pounds sterling]9000. Some of my friends studying medicine or law ended up more than [pounds sterling]30,000 in debt. Now, though, I realise we were lucky. Because if I were a few years younger, the picture would be much bleaker.

Has any generation ever received a worse bequest than mine? For one, residential property prices remain hugely inflated. While everyone else celebrates signs that the housing market is in recovery, those of us not yet on the property ladder are praying they will start falling again.

Four years after I returned to my parents' home, Prodigal-son style, I hope finally to be able to buy a flat later this year. For many of my friends who are renting, buying remains a pipe dream.

The glorious final pension schemes have been slammed shut long before we can get our hands on them. And when Lambert and the rest of the baby boomer cohort retire, we will be picking up the tab.

Those finishing school and university this year face an additional problem: the dire state of the jobs market. This will have a lag effect. It won't just be the classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010 who struggle to find work -- there will be too many inexperienced workers at the bottom of the career pile for years to come. …

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