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West Ham archdeacon Elwin Cockett is concerned the future of our children

PUBLISHED: 10:05 16 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:05 16 March 2016

Archant

There’s an old story that a frog placed in cold water that is then slowly heated up will not notice the growing danger to its health and so will be cooked to death.

In our case, the hot water that we’re into up to our necks is the series of obstacles that we are putting in the way of young people today. And the implications for our future are frightening.

Back in the 1970s, whether we went straight from school to our first job, or studied at university first with the aid of paid-for tuition and grants, most of us could expect to be earning enough in our early 20s to fund a mortgage and a car.

And many of our generation are now living mortgage-free in houses that are worth many times what they paid for them.

Contrast that with those born in the 1990s and later: What with student loans, zero-hour contracts, house prices that are far beyond their reach, and rents at record levels, the millennial generation can rightly feel hard-done-by.

Among other results, homelessness is rising and far too many young families are growing up in overcrowded accommodation.

As the Secretary-General of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) said recently, “This is a problem we must address now urgently. Kicking it down the road will hurt our children and society as a whole.”

We’re up to our necks in hot water, and it’s getting hotter all the time.

As I have said here before, people of faith should be as worried about this as anyone. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote of a society in everyone would be able to work and, by doing so, to house and feed their family. We seem further away from that vision than we were 30 or 40 years ago.

None of us has all the answers to this problem. We cannot expect our politicians to produce any magic wands.

What we can do, nevertheless, is to challenge all the stake-holders in our society to work together to put things right. Because, when it comes down to it, our children and grandchildren matter. More from Elwin


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