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Our hopes for cheap rent and housing are in jeopardy- let’s get political

University life can sometimes feel like a bubble. A bubble that isolates you from the onset of “adult” life. You don’t have to think about full-time employment, disposable incomes or tax, hell, if you’re a first-year living in catered halls you barely have to think about food.

So it might come as a shock that right now the basic tenant of shelter- that is, having a roof over your head- is on the line for our generation.

If you’re not already, you will likely be privately renting in order to live and study in London. Many of us expect that renting will then progress to buying, owning and living in our own homes. But consider this: it is now cheaper to live in a 4-star hotel in two-thirds of European capital cities than it is to rent the average London flat. Why? Our generation, known as the “Millennials” (those born roughly between the early 1980s and 2000) and are at the wrong end of a national housing crisis in which affordable rent is dwindling and home ownership is almost entirely out of reach.

According to a report from the Resolution Foundation published in September, young people are four times more likely than their grandparents to rent privately, and are spending three times more on housing. “So, what?” we say. Well, the research also found that you probably won’t even be getting more for your money. Young people have to settle for lower-quality houses, crowded living conditions and longer commutes than older generations did at the same age.

Last month, The Guardian referenced a report, claiming that a third of young people feel more anxious now than this time last year – which listed money worries and the cost of housing among the reasons why. It claimed that “practical and financial pressures were piling up on young people”.

So, who’s to blame? In a nutshell, it’s our parents – the baby boomer generation born roughly between 1945 an 1965. Inflation, life-expectancy improvements and globalisation are all occurrences which popped up at just the right time for dear ol’ Mum and Dad, who have concentrated wealth and driven up prices.

As a result, the issue of young peoples’ housing is now central to government politics.

At the start of October, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to “renew the British dream” of homes for everyone, including building more cheap houses and putting £10 billion into the party’s “Help to Buy” scheme (to help younger people buy homes). Jeremy Corbyn placed housing policies aimed at young renters at the heart of his party conference. But it has also been reported that Downing Street has accused London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan of “dragging his feet” on building homes for Londoners.

The situation is this: our expectations of independently owning or even renting our own homes in the city after university are becoming less and less realistic. And whilst you might not think that current politics matters much, it is necessary to wise-up to the policies proposed by the government and their opponents to tackle the issue.

Who you vote for could very well determine where you can live, what you can live in and how much you’ll be paying for it in the near future.


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