This week, an influential think-tank called the Resolution Foundation suggested that all millennials should receive a £10,000 government handout when they turn 25, to balance out the broken "generational contract" between millennials and the more affluent, asset-owning baby-boomers.
Sounds nice, right? A lovely ten stacks to get your life in order, to be spent – according to the think-tank's report – on only housing, education, starting a business or contributing towards a pension. But then also: is it really enough for any of that stuff? Ten grand would only put a minor dent in the debt I've accrued via becoming educated, and is a good £70,000 short of the average deposit for a house in London, where I live and would quite like to continue living.
But hey, that's just me. To see what other millennials might do with their hypothetical free government money, I walked around London and asked a few of them.
VICE: What would you spend £10k on if the government gave it to you right now?
Coco: Invest it all in music. I’m in a band, so it would go into recording an album. Maybe a holiday, too.
What do you think of the idea that the government might give £10k to millennials for free?
It's a great idea. It should always be like that. Give everyone a chance of getting further in their life, an equal chance. Because there’s a lot of things, creatively, people want to do, but just don’t have the money – like, it's hard to create when you’re working 23 hours a day out of 24.
So ten grand would make a difference to you?
Yeah, of course. Being able to invest in yourself would make a massive difference.
What do you think about potentially getting ten grand from the government?
India: Sounds outrageous. Sounds great, but I don’t understand the justification.
Well, it’s meant to balance out the financial inequality across generations.
So how would they means test it? How would they know who to give it to? Because some people already have loads of money and don’t deserve any more. It’s got to be people under a certain pay bracket maybe.
Good plan. What would you spend your ten grand on?
Invest in housing. You would probably want to spend it on a load of crap, but you’d have to be sensible with it. We’re renting at the moment, but I’d love to own our own flat – but it just seems impossible.
What would you do if you got ten grand right now?
Ayo: Might sound materialistic, but my Mini Cooper is about to give way, so get a new car on finance. Then save up a good chunk of it, then try give two grand to my parents.
Do you think millennials as a generation deserve ten grand for free?
I can’t say we’re hard done by compared to other generations financially, I just feel like a lot of opportunity has been taken away in terms of development. So the ability to have someone have faith in your development isn’t there. Now, the focus is on if you’re showing signs of intelligence, they invest, but if you’re looking like you might take longer to develop, you get left behind.
And would ten grand change that?
Yeah, it would, I think. It would be kinda like giving everyone an equal starting point. Then you can gauge the mindset of a generation. Most people might spend it on frivolous stuff, but some people might invest in their own development.
What you do with the government's hypothetical free money?
Jason: Right now? Well, I’m about have a kid.
Yeah, thanks. So we’re about to move house. It’s fucking hard to find a place the way things are at the moment, to save up money to get our own place, so it would all go on getting a house for my kid.
Do you think it would be fair if we all got ten grand for nothing?
Yeah, why not. Although, knowing this government, it would have some kind of secret contract, like you’re not allowed to have it unless you sell your soul.
How do you feel we’ve fared compared to other generations financially?
Well, we’ve been fucked over with all these cuts. To be honest, we’ve had no control over our own destiny; some dickheads in America selling too many credit cards have fucked us all over.
What would you do if you suddenly got £10k from the government in your account?
Tom: Well, I'm a filmmaker, so I’d invest in a bit more equipment, think about how I could make it grow. Y’know, ten grand these days isn’t really that much, so I’d think about how I’d accumulate more capital. I don’t think I’d fritter it away, because I’d be thinking about how I can make more from it.
Would ten grand be a fair amount?
I think it is fair, but I don’t think it should have got to this point where we have to get a ten grand handout. It would be a bit like pissing into the wind in the face of neoliberalism, and the housing market dictating our lives now. The attitude towards money needs to change, and that’s an issue for education.
So you don’t think it would change anything?
No, it would change a few people’s lives, but I think a few people would see it as a pocket money to spend, which would defeat the purpose.
What would you do right now with ten thousand of HMRC's pounds?
Stephanie: Well, straight away I’d invest at least half of that in shares, pay off some debts…
Maybe go on holiday?
Well, I’d be tempted to; it would definitely cross my mind – like, go and buy a load of shit. But why would I only stick with ten thousand when I can make it one hundred thousand?
Do you think you deserve ten grand right now? Or that your peers do?
I think it should be means tested. But maybe on a more informal basis.
What, like rich people aren’t allowed?
Well, yeah – like, if you’ve been spoon-fed you don’t get it, but if you’re trying to do something with yourself and it hasn’t gone to plan then you should be able to apply for it.
Do you think we’d all be better off with ten grand then?
I think some people would be worse off. Like how people who won the lottery, their lives end up being worse, it could turn out like that.