We’ll never have it so good again

The Telegraph -


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.

The Government’s social mobility tsar, Alan Milburn, will this week warn   that social mobility has gone into reverse. For the first time in a century,   the middle classes are becoming worse off. In the words of one Whitehall   official: “Social mobility is no longer just an issue for children from poor   families. There’s a real risk that children from families with above-average   incomes will in future have lower living standards than their parents.”

To which I can only ask: you mean you’ve only just noticed? What took you so   long?

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.


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