Worrying Gap Between Young and Old Revealed

16 May 2019

New APPG on Social Integration report highlights division between the ages.

A new poll has shown one in two people aged 75 or over think the younger generation ‘don’t have it bad, they just complain more’, while 52% of the UK population believe Brexit has widened the gap between the old and the young.

But a report published today says that introducing a penny charge on self-service checkouts and ‘unplugging’ for the day could help bridge the generational gap.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration released Healing the Generational Divide at the Institute for Policy Research, a leading public policy research institute, based at the University of Bath, with backing from social integration charity The Challenge.

Launched by chair Chuka Umunna MP and group member and local Bath MP Wera Hobhouse, the report marks the half-way point in the inquiry into intergenerational connection. It lays out a series of suggestions to bring people of all ages and backgrounds
together under four main policy areas – community projects and initiatives, public services, housing and planning, and technology.

They include:

  • A penny charge on every transaction carried out using self-service machines to counteract potential damage caused by a lack of everyday contact between people. This could generate £30m or more which would then be used to fund intergenerational and community projects.
  • Transport bodies like Transport for London and Transport for Greater Manchester should encourage intergenerational connection through initiatives like a ‘Take Your Headphones Off Day’ and community seating, which promote conversation between different generations.
  • The creation of a new flagship national volunteering scheme that encourages older people to volunteer in their communities when they retire.
  • The government should explore a small tax break for people who commit to a set number of hours of volunteering within a public service per month, such as a nursery, school or care home.

Mr Umunna said: “We all know that Brexit has been incredibly divisive but what we have seen over the course of this inquiry suggests that generational division extends far beyond the realm of politics, into our daily lives.

“This report sets out the beginnings of a framework where local, regional and national government can work together to foster stronger connections between generations. Now, more than ever, we need to act to bring our country back together and move forward as one. That’s why it’s vital we keep talking about what is happening in our society, try to understand why and find solutions that will help heal the generational divide.”

Wera Hobhouse MP for Bath, who sits on the APPG on Social Integration, said: "It's plain to see that there are many places where segregation is occurring in our society and this inquiry is showing that the gap between different generations remains, despite excellent work from organisations, such as Goodgym and the St Monica Trust. What we need to find are ways forward to improve relationships between young and old, and this interim report offers some interesting ideas in how we can do that."

Dr Matt Dickson, deputy director of the Institute for Policy Research, spoke about the IPR’s Loneliness in the Digital Age project - which looks at using digital technologies to tackle episodes of loneliness for isolated communities - and how it links with the APPG's work.

He said: “If we want to lay the groundwork for a more cohesive society in which people from all generations feel more united and integrated, we need an approach that cuts across policy areas and spans from national to local levels, bringing together policymakers, practitioners and researchers. Research from the University of Bath, across multiple different areas, is seeking to improve our understanding and responses to these important issues.”

Antony Hawkins, director of strategy and business development at The Challenge, said: “At The Challenge we’ve known for a long time that our society is divided along many fault lines so it great to see this group both delve deep into the reasons for divisions between the ages and offer suggestions on how we bridge that gap.“

The launch at 11am today includes a question and answer session with the panel, which consists of Mr Umunna MP, Dr Dickson, Ms Hobhouse MP, Rachael Dutton of St Monica Trust and GoodGym founder, Ivo Gormley.