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Justice has always been a principle at the heart of conservative politics – from Baldwin’s talk of a ‘union of all classes’ to the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013 by David Cameron. Injustice is inimical to the basic conservative premise that a country’s heritage and institutions can only be preserved through harmony between all segments of society – men and women, city and town, rich and poor. It is precisely this which makes it so urgent to address one of the great injustices of our time: the generational wealth gap.

Any examination of this divide throws up a variety of alarming statistics. Younger generations are on track to have less wealth than older ones at every stage in their life; the youth unemployment rate is three times as high as the rate for the country at large; the number of young adults owning their own home has dropped by fifty percent in two decades. At the same time, the wealth of older generations continues to rise, protected by the triple lock on pensions and buoyed by far higher rates of home ownership.

Conservatives can no longer afford to remain oblivious to this. Not only is it a serious dereliction of duty by the state, it will eventually become an issue that will punish Conservative candidates at the ballot box. For the sake of preserving social harmony, it is imperative that action be taken to redress the growing gap between generations.

What form should this action take? I suggest that conservatives should advocate for a redistribution of wealth between the generations, reducing subsidies towards pensioners and using the savings to make home ownership more attainable for young people. Simultaneously they should work to address issues such as education and employment, where younger generations stand at a disadvantage compared to older ones.

One such subsidy which stands as a particularly invidious example of overgenerous state largesse is the triple lock on pensions. Though its removal was mooted prior to the 2017 general election, those plans were quietly shelved. British pensioners will continue to have their pensions uprated at one of the most generous rates in Europe; a policy costing billions each year. It is profoundly against conservative principles to allow such a thinly veiled electoral bribe to stand.

The OBR suggests that changing from a triple lock to an uprating system linked to inflation would save £2.3bn per annum by 2021/22. To this can be added the money saved from introducing other fiscally prudent common-sense economies into the budget; means-testing benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and bus passes. A more radical mechanism for redistribution might be to impose a small wealth tax on net assets beyond a certain level in the high hundreds of thousands of pounds, akin to the French model – something which would enable a movement of wealth from older homeowners towards younger generations. Payment of the tax could be delayed till after death, mitigating the impact upon poorer taxpayers.

This sum of taxpayers’ money would serve more use if channelled by the government to causes which would help young working families. It could, for instance, allow an expansion of the Help to Buy scheme, enabling more families to enter the property market for the first time; equally it could be used to fund a major home-building program to develop the supply of housing in Britain. In addition to this, government should also encourage more older people to downsize, freeing up valuable household spaces. This could be done through not collecting stamp duty on sales involving downsizing, or through subsidising the construction of affordable housing stock designed for the elderly.

Beyond root-and-branch reforms to old-age benefits, conservatives should also seek to address the concerns of young voters regarding tertiary education. This should not mean revisiting the now-settled question of tuition fees, but developing alternative pathways to an expensive university education to help young people access employment. In particular, conservatives should support considerable investment in vocational training and apprenticeships; for many, this will form a much more useful form of education than studying a degree of limited value for three years. This investment might take the form of funding an expansion of apprenticeships, or setting up technical colleges to teach value-adding skills that can be used in industry.

For those who opt to attend university, the flaws of the present system governing tuition fees should be ironed out. Conservatives should advocate strongly for the government to take action against the much-maligned Student Loans Company, which has alienated many young people with its poor management and customer service. Another effective policy might be to reintroduce government-funded bursaries for students studying technical disciplines at highly academic universities; this would include restoring bursaries for student nurses.

Beyond investing in education, government should also make work pay for young people. For too many, the mere fact of employment does not mean financial security and rewarding work. One way that conservatives could improve this situation is through increasing the rate at which the National Living Wage rises, and bolstering in-work benefits. Robust enforcement of employment regulations will become increasingly important as more workers enter the ‘gig economy’, and conservatives must make it clear that they support dignified and safe jobs for workers.

Authentic conservatism cannot exist in a society in which the youth grow increasingly poor whilst older generations accumulate more and more wealth. A conservative government should embrace the possibility of using the state as a tool to redress this inequality. The result – a new generation of home-owning prosperous young Britons – should reinvigorate the economy and the country as a whole.

David Verghese is the winner of the 2017 Tamworth Prize and studies at Cambridge University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily those of Bright Blue.