The middle classes can no longer afford the houses and schools that their parents did – and the future looks even more squeezed for their children, reads an article by David Thomas in The Telegraph, 14th October 2013
It has been at least 20 years since I realised that, even though I was earning more than my father had ever made in his life, I could never hope to afford to live in a house like the one I grew up in, nor give my children the kind of education he provided for me and my sisters. And I am not the child of a wealthy man. My father was a diplomat. He earned a modest Civil Service salary. But my mother had inherited a few thousand pounds from her late father. So in 1964 they used that money to buy a five-bedroom detached house opposite Kew Gardens in south-west London. It cost £8,000.
In the early 1980s my parents sold it for the impressive-sounding sum of £120,000, having given me the chance to buy it first. I had to decline their offer: £120,000 was way beyond my means at the time. But I was at least able to get on to the housing ladder. In 1984, my then girlfriend, now wife, Clare and I bought a tiny one-bed Fulham flat for £34,000. So that was more than four times what my parents had paid for a large house. But it was at least affordable: about twice our joint incomes at the time.
Meanwhile, my old family home kept appreciating. Had house prices kept pace with inflation, one worth £8,000 in 1964 should now cost a little over £137,000. Well, in August 2011, our former home was placed on the market. The asking price was £2,475,000. So a house that had once been affordable by a young, middle-class couple was now being aimed at buyers who were, by any normal standards, very rich indeed.
The article further describes a similar process of exclusion that has taken place in education and the increasingly stark division between the tiny minority of super-rich and everyone else – including the middle class.
David Thomas asks in the article:
“How did it come to this? What are the causes of this downward drift?”
While inequality is a complex issue and there are many interrelated causes, one major part of the story has been getting hardly any attention – Watch our video “Inequality: Why are the rich getting richer?” and read ‘How will Positive Money reforms affect Debt & Inequality’