Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.


[Reposted] Barnet Press: Brent Cross Cricklewood, London Plan, Road Congestion, Trams, etc.

Down Memory Lane: Estates Gazette Brent Cross Cricklewood video (at Barnet's Planning Committee, Nov. 2009)

Gems from the Developers: 
  • "Tiny increase" in car usage, and 
  • "Waste turned into renewable fuel - an overstated issue".

Our comments: 
  • '29,000 extra cars every day' is Barnet's figure (including West Hendon) in an analysis paid for by Hammerson and other developers.
  • And that's 'renewable' as in plastics, then. 
  • And nano-particles, dioxins, heavy metals, reduced imperative to recycle,..
And in general, about the wisdom of us publicising the developers' remarks:  
"Give a man enough rope, and he'll hang himself."

Forbes: "London's Foreign Investment Is Increasing -- Except In This One Sector"

Link to web site

"While foreign investments in office buildings and retail have been brisk, UK housing does not see the eager foreign investment that other sectors do.

"Argent Related is one unusual U.S./UK partnership that will build homes in the UK. The partnership, helmed [apparently an intransitive verb] by David Partridge, launched a £1B project to build 800 homes at Tottenham Hale and a £4B project to build 7,500 homes at Brent Cross [compulsory purchase orders permitting - and the crucial CPO3 hasn't even happened yet].

"These projects are useful, property expert Katie Kopec said, but barely address the problem. It is almost impossible for private homebuilders to solve the housing crisis because the scale of the problem is so huge. Even so, Kopec said, the UK can learn a lot from Americans. London's rental units are usually in blocks of Georgian buildings, while there are precious few big new apartment building blocks, which Americans excel at building."


The Guardian: "Sub-prime cars: are car loans driving us towards the next financial crash?"

"Analysts fear the boom in personal contract plans are mirroring the sub-prime mortgage scandal and are fuelling a colossal build-up of debt in UK and US"

Link to web site

"A huge increase in the amounts borrowed by already indebted households in Britain and the US to buy new vehicles is fuelling fears that 'sub-prime cars' could ignite the next financial crash.

"British households borrowed a record £31.6bn in 2016 to buy cars, up 12% on the year before, said the Finance and Leasing Association on Friday. Nine out of 10 private car buyers are now using personal contract plans (known as PCPs), which have boomed since interest rates fell to historic lows.

"... Car financing in the UK is a 'flashing light', according to Andrew Evans, a fund manager at investment firm Schroders. 'Borrowing is a very bad idea when it is done against a depreciating asset … such as a car,' he said, adding that there was a 'serious level of fragility built into the system'.

The Times: "Brent Cross revamp is Hammerson’s aim after profits tumble" (which is a bit of a hostage to fortune, isn't it?)

Link to web site (pay wall)

"A billion-pound facelift for the Brent Cross shopping centre in north London heads the 'to do' list for Hammerson, after the company suffered a writedown-related plunge in profits for 2016.

"The 40-year-old Brent Cross, Britain's first entirely enclosed shopping mall [no, it's not], is showing its age and the redevelopment will double the size of the existing site close to the North Circular, as well as bringing it into the 21st century [eh?].

"Hammerson’s share of the cost is put at up to £550 million, with Standard Life, its joint venture partner on the site, also footing the bill."


Evening Standard: Hammerson's 'SS Brent Cross' sails serenely on, ignoring the jagged rocks of compulsory purchase public local inquiries...

Shurely Shome Mishtake. Ed.

"Property firm Hammerson is set to submit detailed plans for the £1.2 billion overhaul of Brent Cross shopping centre within weeks, boss David Atkins said today. [So nothing has changed.]

"The modernisation will more than double the size of the 40-year-old north London mall to 1.9 million square feet, as part of a wider £4.5 billion regeneration of Cricklewood including offices, parks and nearly 7000 new homes.

"The centre, which opened in 1976 as the UK's first fully enclosed shopping mall, already sees 15 million visits a year but the extension will almost double the number of shops to 200."


The Guardian: "Is this the end of UK's retail boom?"

"Economic indicators point to a prolonged slump in consumer spending, and as prices rise real income will fall"

Link to web site

"All things considered, it could hardly have gone better for Britain’s retailers in 2016. Shops and online outlets were fully braced for a big hit to activity in the period after the EU referendum but it didn't happen. Consumers spent in the summer. They spent in the autumn and they spent at Christmas too.

"That spree is over. Retailers are going to find life tougher in 2017. Those facing the prospect of higher business rates alongside a dip in demand will experience a painful double-whammy.

"Three factors explain why the pundits who confidently predicted carnage in the high street after the Brexit vote were wrong: consumer psychology; policy changes; and the economic fundamentals underpinning consumer demand."


[Reposted from Feb 2013] "Roads Are Not For Cars"

Link to 'Atlantic Cities'

"... The combined effects of improved convenience for drivers, a degraded walking environment, service cuts to public transit and the physical separation of residential and commercial areas were forcing city-dwellers into cars.

Cities like Berkeley, Arlington and Cambridge experienced something different. Even as they cut back on surface parking, the number of people and jobs climbed upward, as did incomes. Less parking in these places has meant the urban fabric can be stitched back together and there is more space for shops, restaurants, jobs and other things that make cities great.

"More importantly, the parking isn’t needed. People own cars at higher rates, but they don’t use them as much. Instead, they live close to the urban core where upwards of 30 percent walk or bike to work.

"Today, in many cities, roads and parking facilities continue to grow, as though the problem for the last 50 years has been that the growth was not enough. These cities might be able to guarantee a parking space in front of every destination that still remains (or they might not), but they are likely doing so at the expense of those things that cities really need – namely, people."

"Mayor of New York says roads are not for cars. And cyclists and pedestrians are 'more important' than motorists"

Link to 'Roads Were Not Built For Cars'

Surveyor: "Rail industry promises 'age of the digital train'"

This is The Age
Of the Train.

"The rail industry has set out how it will cope with ever-increasing demand by using technology and advanced design to get more people on trains and more trains on the network.

"... The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said new seat designs would both improve comfort and increase the amount of space for passengers on both new and existing trains.

"One new seat type allows between 20-30% more seats, allowing passengers to sit in a more upright position, while another type provides traditional seats during the day, but converts to a different configuration during peak times, allowing up to 15-20% more seats and more room for people who stand."


Sun 12 Feb: Caroline Hirons: Body Shop Appearance

"Hi Everyone!

"To celebrate the brand new Body Shop in Brent Cross I'm popping along on Sunday to spend time on the shop floor, meet you and talk all things skin.

"This is the first time I've done an event at the weekend, but a lot of your feedback was 'NO MORE WEEKDAYS PLEASE' so hopefully this will suit more of you timings-wise.

"The Body Shop, Upper Mall Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon, London, NW4 3FP

"Sunday 12th February 12-5.30pm

"Come see us for all things spots. And tea. And skincare. Obvs.

"Hope to see you there!"

Evening Standard: "Wembley housing scheme will be biggest ever 'build-to-rent' development" [Wembley has THREE stations. Just saying.]

Link to web site

"The thousands of tenants expected  to move into Britain’s biggest ever “build-to-rent” housing scheme next to Wembley Stadium will save it from being blighted by the 'lights-out' phenomenon, property bosses claimed today.

"They revealed that close to 5,000 out of a total 7,000 apartments being built at the Wembley Park development will be for private and social rent.

"James Saunders, chief operating officer at developer Quintain, said he expected at least 95 per cent of the homes to be occupied when they are completed.

"That is a far higher proportion than most conventional 'for sale' housing schemes in London, where large numbers of homes are snapped up by foreign investors and either kept empty for all or part of the year, or rented out as buy-to-lets."

Link to web site

"Last weekend saw the government announce 'a better deal for tenants'. Could it be that someone in Westminster has belatedly realised that buying a home is no longer a viable option? Because of surging house prices, job insecurity, and no access to a deposit, for many it is nigh on impossible.

"... There exists a specious argument that rent controls cause a stagnating rental market (translation: tenants stay long-term and rents are stable). This theory encouraged John Major's government to pass the regressive 1996 Housing Act to end long-term tenancies.

"But remember this: back in the 80s, a mortgage was two-and-a-half times annual incomes, not eight to 10 times as it is now. Consequently home ownership was a natural stage in life: those who could bought and those who couldn't rented one place for ever. As is right and proper."


London Civic Forum: Brent Cross is a bit iffy

"Plans to enlarge the Brent Cross centre have been in the pipeline for several years and been through several rounds of consultation. [Ha!]  Now Hammerson has unveiled its latest plans which were publicly consulted on earlier this month and are due to go before planners at Barnet council next spring.

"The scheme was previously called Brent Cross Cricklewood and was designed by Allies & Morrison. But in 2014 the site was divided into two with the plot north of the A406 North Circular road – which includes the shopping centre – now being called Brent Cross London. It will be developed by Hammerson and Standard Life.

"The 1976 shopping centre will be doubled in size and the bus station will be enlarged and relocated.

"Architects working on the scheme include Chapman Taylor, Callison RTKL and Macgregor Smith and the plans include around 400 homes and a riverside park.

"The southern portion, Brent Cross South, is being delivered by Argent Related in a joint venture with the council and will include 6,700 homes and more shops, but configured in a more traditional way like a high street.

"But is it sustainable? Will it hoover up all the retail growth in North London? What will be the impact on town centres in North London? What happened to the 'town centre first' policy? What would that mean in North London?"


[Reposted] Cricklewood Station to close, for benefit of Brent Cross developers: Brookfield/Multiplex? (cleared out.) Hammerson? (clearing out.) GVA's Brave New Punter?

London Borough of Barnet
Cabinet Resources Committee
18 April 2013 (link)
"...GVA are also commissioned to explore potential funding strategies to bring forward critical infrastructure within the Regeneration Area, including the Thameslink Station.

"This review will be complete in April 2013, and reported to Cabinet Resources later this year"

Thameslink Station?

(North is to the left; the A5 Edgware Road is along the bottom)

That will be the:
'Cricklewood New Station'
to replace the existing:
'Cricklewood Old Station'
then! (Incidentally, it is next to part of the Brent Cross waste incinerator).

As Network Rail said, in October 2007 (source)
"Taking cognisance of the new station development, and the re-modelling of Cricklewood sidings, any work done at the current Cricklewood station would be potentially abortive cost.

The recommended option is to utilise Selective Door Opening [at the] station, configured to allow the maximum length of a 12-car train possible to stop at the existing platforms. Once the new 'Cricklewood' station becomes operational, a decision will have to be made as to the future of the current Cricklewood station."

The London Borough of Barnet and Hammerson have always vigorously denied the likelihood, or even the possibility, that the current Cricklewood station would close.

Until now:
“Concerns [were] raised at the Welsh Harp Joint Consultative Committee meeting of 21 March 2013 over the future of the Hendon Rail Station, as a result of new rail station proposals associated with the Brent Cross Cricklewood development.

I have had confirmation from [the LB of Barnet] Transport and Regeneration Manager who dealt with this aspect of the Brent Cross Cricklewood submission that whilst the future of Cricklewood Station could be in question as a result of the proposals, the approved scheme would not result in the closure of Hendon station."
Senior Planning Officer, Major Developments Environment, Planning and Regeneration, LB of Barnet
So it's progress - of sorts!

[Reposted] Hammerson insisted anyone wanting TRAMS at BRENT CROSS must sign agreement not to oppose its planning application. Despite Barnet's subsequent corrupt 2010 planning consent, the idea will not go away...

(Barnet and Hammerson have complained about height clearance and catenary obstructions over the years at Brent Cross, and never supported investigation of trams or light rail.)

"Railway Gazette: The 21 CAF Urbos 3 trams used on the Midland Metro light rail line are to be retrofitted with batteries to enable catenary-free operation, West Midlands transport agency Centro announced on February 12, and four more trams have been ordered which will be supplied with batteries already fitted.

"This will allow catenary-free running on four planned extensions:
  • Birmingham New Street station –Centenary Square extension scheduled to open in 2019, running through the architecturally sensitive Victoria Square with the 182-year-old Town Hall;
  • Edgbaston extension from Centenary Square, through Brindleyplace and the underpass at Five Ways;
  • Eastside extension between Moor Street Queensway and Digbeth High Street, where battery operation would avoid the need to lower the existing road under the West Coast Main Line and reduce the headroom required under the proposed HS2 station at Curzon Street;
  • Wolverhampton city centre extension between the bus and railway station tram stops.
"West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority Chairman Councillor John McNicholas said catenary-free operation had been envisaged when the CAF trams were ordered in 2012, and the contract included provision for retrofitting. Urbos trams fitted with supercapacitors are used in Zaragoza and Sevilla, however, this technology was felt to be unsuitable for the steep hill in Birmingham’s Pinfold Street, while battery technology was not sufficiently developed when the order was placed.

"Negotiations are now underway with battery suppliers. The cost has not been finalised, but the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership will contribute £3·15m and industry association UKTram £1m. The batteries will be fitted on the tram roof and will be recharged from the overhead lines along other parts of the route. They are expected to require replacement at approximately seven-year intervals."

Link to Transport page.

Tue 21 Feb: The London Plan: Affordable Housing and Viability


Internet Retailing: "Evidence points to a click and collect Christmas"

Click and collect the web site

"There's mounting evidence that the popularity of click and collect grew strongly in the run-up to Christmas.

"John Lewis has said that 52% of online orders were picked up via click and collect this Christmas, with use of the delivery method up by 14.5% compared to last year.

"... CollectPlus said today that it had handled 25% more parcels for 26% more customers between October and December 2016 than it did in the same period in the previous year. Volumes in November alone were up by 29%, while December was ahead by 25%. That, it said, meant that click and collect was growing in popularity faster than the online shopping sector, which the British Retail Consortium put at 10.9% in November and 7.2% in December. [That's enough percentages. Ed.]

"It enabled pureplays such as Very and Asos to offer next-day delivery to a local convenience store in the CollectPlus network up to December 23. The last parcel was collected at 11.19pm on December 24 in the West Midlands. It says that customers preferred to pick up near to where they were shopping in-store, rather than wait in for deliveries. Its shopping centre collection points, which include Trinity Leeds and Brent Cross, outperformed many traditional locations for the first time."


Evening Standard: "This is the future: the unstoppable march of machines"

"What will Trump and May do as even white-collar jobs look set to be eradicated by Artificial Intelligence?"

Just think to the web site

"Much of the rage that propelled Donald Trump to the inauguration stage on Capitol Hill last Friday was fuelled by angry blue-collar workers threatened by technological change. His answer is the deeply misguided reflex of populists down the ages: build walls, yell “my country first” and impose protectionist barriers against products from abroad. But he had nothing to say about the bigger, unstoppable technological change just around the corner. Nor, I safely predict, will Theresa May’s new Brexit industrial strategy have much to say either.

"AI is not only rendering people's jobs obsolete, it exposes the hopeless parochialism of a political class obsessed with fighting yesterday’s battles, whether it's car imports from Mexico or bureaucrats in Brussels.

"No wonder the leaders of Silicon Valley who gathered in Davos last week were reported to be fretting. They realise, rightly, that there's a risk they will be vilified, as the bankers were after the financial crisis."


The Observer: "Globalisation once made the world go around. Is it about to grind to a halt?"

"The denizens of Davos reassured themselves that free trade would go on in the Trump era, but they had for years done little about the losers such a system creates"

Link to web site

"This is not the first era of globalisation. What might be called Globalisation 1.0 was alive and well at the end of the 19th century, an era of free trade, mass migration and liberalised capital flows.

"It was described by John Maynard Keynes in the following way:
'The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole Earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages.'
"What's the difference between Keynes's Londoner sipping his tea and today's Londoner slurping a latte while using a smartphone to buy something from Amazon? Sure, technology is faster and the global networks are more integrated. But in Edwardian Britain there was exactly the same confidence that the globalised world would continue uninterrupted as there is today.

"Yet the first era of globalisation did end. What’s more, a precise date can be put on the day it died: 28 June 1914, the day the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand set off the chain reaction that led to the outbreak of the first world war six weeks later. The unspoken question in Davos was whether 20 January 2017 will be another day that will go down in history for all the wrong reasons."

Brent Cross Football Academy ("That was a great cross but there was no one there")

Link to back of the net

"Brent Cross Football Academy is an FA affiliated community sports club, consisting of grassroots teams and player development centre squads, ranging from ages 4 - 16. Established in 2017, by professional coaches Antony Wardrop and Jamie Kavanagh, whom have over 16 years of football coaching experience between them at both grassroots and professional level.  

"Brent Cross Football Academy creates a platform for children to learn and develop their skills of the beautiful game, whilst providing a pathway from grassroots to academy. Adopting a holistic approach we tailor our sessions to meet the development needs of each child, focusing on the FA four corner model (Physical, Technical, Psychological, Social)."

Some tired legs out there:
Whitefield School
Claremont Road
NW2 1TR​​

Giving it 110%:
07903 039 735
07718 316 331​
Twitter: @BrentCrossFA

This game needs a goal.


The Guardian: Financing the UK's future: Woe is Me

Link to web site (and below)

"Norway has amassed [a sovereign wealth fund] of $885bn (£727bn) – easily enough to cope with the cost of looking after a population of 5 million as it ages. In Britain, by contrast, the NHS is at breaking point, the social care system is struggling to cope and there is no pot of gold to pay for the healthcare and nursing fees of the baby boomer generation as it advances into old age. Norway is currently winning the sovereign wealth fund contest $885bn to nil. One hell of a beating indeed.

"The lack of a UK-wide fund speaks volumes. There is an ingrained culture of short-termism in which consumers spend more than they earn and governments can see no further than the next election. As the Wikipedia list of sovereign wealth funds shows, even the world’s poorest countries have tried to put some of the proceeds from oil and gas extraction away for a rainy day. Ghana and Gabon, for example, both have such funds.

"One result of last year's EU referendum is that it has forced people to take a long, hard look at Britain's economic model and come up with possible remedies for its weaknesses. These have been perfectly encapsulated in the six months since the Brexit vote. The economy is growing at a fair old lick, but mainly because consumers are out on a debt-fuelled spending spree.

"... John Penrose, the Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, has a radical suggestion – do what should have been done all those years ago and launch a sovereign wealth fund. This would not be easy."

"You cannot buy happiness – not even on 'Blue Monday'"

"We're told every day by advertisers that buying stuff will make us happy. A new pair of shoes will help us to feel better after a breakup. New beauty products will give us a sense that we're 'worth it'. A bigger car will give us social status. New toys will make the children happy.

"Even loans are sold this way: one payday lender is currently running a campaign with a smiling woman, snuggling a mug of tea and feeling happy thanks to a 1,200% APR loan, an implausible scena"rio if ever there was one. So it's no wonder that on Blue Monday, the day our anxieties and misery are supposed to peak, the advertisers scream that the path out of unhappiness is paved with till receipts.

"Sometimes the harm this causes is relatively trivial: overconsumption of stuff we don’t need; a bit less money in the bank; a wardrobe that won’t close because we’re not very good at throwing away our throwaway fashion buys."

" 'It's a financial cliff edge': how Britain fell back in love with credit cards"

"For more than half a million Britons, January provides the mother of financial hangovers. The darkness of the days is compounded by the need to trawl the internet to find a new home for credit card debts swollen by the Christmas spending orgy. For some it is an annual ritual that keeps their share of a £192bn unsecured consumer credit mountain ticking over and out of sight.

"But last week, alarm bells started ringing as official figures showed consumers racking up debt at a rate not seen since the spending frenzy that preceded the 2008 financial crisis.

"... The Bank of England figures made it look like UK consumers were partying like it was 2007 as credit card borrowing reached a record £66.7bn in the year to November. The Bank said that consumer credit, which means all credit cards and car loans, had risen at its fastest rate in 11 years, up 10.8% over the last 12 months period to reach £192bn."

"Declutter your cupboard if you want, but it won't save the planet "

"Is this the year we finally get to grips with all our stuff? If so, it has been a long time coming. Forecasters and commentators say we have entered a new era where people prefer to share rather than own, and prize experiences over possessions. Retailers worry about the implications for them of a public sated on 'peak stuff'.

"Official figures suggest that Britons are consuming ever fewer resources. And witness the worldwide success of the rationalisation bible, Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising.

"It's an encouraging thesis with which to start a new year. If only it were true. The talk is of the sharing economy, but the reality is that very little is being done on a large-scale level to reduce our high-consumption lifestyles. While it might feel virtuous to Marie Kondo your wardrobe, we urgently need to address the vast amount of often unseen resources that support our modern way of life."


"A year in ourcity.london"

Link to web site

"A year ago, I started this website. After having grown up in London, I was becoming increasingly concerned about the way in which our city was being exploited.

"One particular frustration was the way in which property developers were undermining the rules designed to protect our communities and our built environment (and making absurd profits in the process), and the lack of critical investigative journalism covering this subject.

"London is a city which is bigger than many countries in Europe. But it has only one daily newspaper, the Evening Standard. That newspaper provides almost no critical analysis of one of the greatest challenges facing us, the failure of the city to house itself. Instead, every new 'exclusive' property development is celebrated in their property pages, which seem to cater exclusively for a wealthy international elite.

"With this website, my goal was to bring a critical eye to London’s housing, property and development industries. To help develop a greater understanding as to why our city is failing, and share that knowledge with you, the readers.

"Over the course of a year, the site has managed to cover a huge number of issues, from the dark arts of daylight surveyors to some of the absurd lengths a property developer will go to, to destroy a London pub and turn it into a single family dwelling."

The Observer: "The dark side of Britain’s gold rush: how corruption crept into our suburbs" (In Barnet, it was always there)

"The super rich flooded into London after 2008. Illicit wealth has followed"

Link to web site

"Stand outside a north London private school when the bell rings at the end of the day and it soon becomes apparent how much some parts of the capital have changed in only a few decades.

"Scything through the chill of a January afternoon comes the chatter of excited children. But these children are not speaking English or French or German. They talk in languages that come from far further afield.

“Thirty years ago, your average private school was solidly middle class,” said Robert Barrington, executive director of the UK chapter of Transparency International, an anti-corruption organisation. “Now a high percentage, 50% or more, will be children from overseas, countries like China and Nigeria.”

"A similar picture emerges a few miles south of the leafy streets of Hampstead and Highgate down in Harley Street. The waiting rooms of the UK’s leading fertility clinics, orthodontists and cosmetic enhancement consultancies play host to wealthy families from the Middle East and the former Soviet bloc. From private schools to private healthcare, from Mercedes dealerships to Michelin-starred restaurants, the capital has benefited from a massive influx of foreign money."


The Independent: "‘The Bank of Mum and Dad’ – a homely-sounding expression for an engine of social division"

"And so the rich get richer. It was always true that inherited wealth was one of the most powerful indicators of the future prospects of individuals cross the social classes. Now, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies' careful analysis of the trends in wealth accumulation, the old saw seems to be truer than for many decades.

"We already know, indeed, that British society is more unequal in the distribution of wealth than income that for the best part of a century: now we realise, as many have suspected, that the trend is about to become a great deal worse. It does not augur well for social cohesion, the creation of a fair society or economic efficiency. We should be worried.

"The IFS's data reveals the revolutionary, and mutually-reinforcing, effect of two major forces in British society since Margaret Thatcher became prime minister almost four decades ago. The increase in the rate of home ownership, coupled with a tripling of property values – even more in the London and the South-east – in that period has created a vast pool of wealth in a relatively small sector of society, almost by accident."

"Rising inheritances will deliver biggest benefit for those already well off"

"Younger generations are likely to inherit much more wealth than their predecessors did, both in absolute terms and relative to their other sources of wealth. But within each generation, those who are already well off tend to inherit the most – with implications for inequality and social mobility.

"Ranking current pensioners by total lifetime income (excluding inheritance), those in the top 20% have inherited four times as much as the bottom 20% on average. Among younger generations, those with higher incomes are significantly more likely to expect an inheritance than those with lower incomes.
These are among the main findings of new IFS research published today, which looks at the impact of inheritances on inequality across and within different generations.

"Inheritances are going to be more important for younger generations ...
  • Between 2002–03 and 2012–13, the wealth of elderly households (those in which all members are 80 or older) increased by 45%, mostly as a result of higher homeownership and rising house prices. 72% of these households now expect to leave an inheritance, up from 60% a decade ago, with a particularly sharp increase in the proportion expecting to leave a large inheritance.
  • Younger generations look much more likely to inherit than their predecessors. Of those born in the 1970s, 75% have received or expect to receive an inheritance, compared with 61% of those born in the 1950s and less than 40% of those born in the 1930s.
... and are likely to benefit those who are already well off the most.
  • Future inheritances are likely to be highly unequal. Even excluding the super-rich (for whom we do not have reliable data), the richest half of elderly households hold 90% of the wealth and the richest 10% hold 40% of the wealth. Hence a ‘lucky half’ of younger generations look likely to get the vast majority of inherited wealth.
  • The largest inheritances tend to go to those who are already well off. Among current pensioners, more than half of those with families well enough off to leave them more than £250,000 in inheritance have lifetime incomes (excluding inheritances) in the top 20% of the population.
  • Among younger generations, higher-income individuals are more likely to expect an inheritance. Looking at those born in the 1970s, 9 in 10 of the top-income fifth have received or expect to receive an inheritance, compared with 6 in 10 of the lowest-income fifth.
  • But both low- and high-income households in younger generations are more likely to inherit something than their predecessors. In fact, the lowest-income fifth of those born in the 1970s are more likely to have received or expect to receive an inheritance than the highest-income fifth of those born in the 1930s.
"Andrew Hood, an author of the briefing note and a Senior Research Economist at IFS, said:
“The wealth of younger generations looks set to depend more on who their parents are than was the case for older generations. Today’s elderly have much more wealth to leave to their children than their predecessors did, primarily as the result of higher homeownership rates and rising house prices. At the same time, today’s young adults will find it harder to accumulate wealth of their own than previous generations did, due to the sharp fall in homeownership for that group, the dramatic decline of defined benefit pensions in the private sector and the stagnation in their incomes.”

IFS: Newspaper Article

We inherit too much and earn too little

Date:06 January 2017
Publisher:The IFS
The first day of 2017 was marred by the death of one of Britain’s greatest economists, Sir Anthony (or Tony as he was universally known) Atkinson.

Tony had worked for decades on how to measure, and tackle, inequality. He was focused not just on inequalities in income and earnings, but also inequality in wealth. And with good reason. Wealth is vastly more unequally distributed than income. It is ownership of wealth that confers security, and often power, in a way that unreliable earnings may not. And while high-earning parents do tend to beget high-earning children, the inheritance of wealth is even more direct.

One of Tony’s important insights was that wealth matters more now than at any time since the 1930s because household wealth has been rising relative to income — from less than three times national income in the mid-1970s to more than five times national income today.

Wealth is also concentrated among the older generation. It's bound to be. You pay off your debts and your mortgage, and save for retirement as you get older. But this concentration is growing as younger generations struggle to get on the housing ladder, cannot access decent occupational pensions, and bear the brunt of a decade of earnings stagnation. At the same time, average wealth among the oldest has risen dramatically even in the past decade, not least as a result of rising house prices. Those now in their 60s and 70s will be wealthier still when they reach their 80s and 90s.

Much of that wealth will be inherited. Three quarters of those born in the 1970s expect an inheritance compared with only half of their parents. For much of the 20th century the role of inherited wealth in determining our economic wellbeing was in decline. Now it is getting more important again.

In part it is important because it is so unequally distributed. Even ignoring the super-wealthy, the poorer half of oldest households have only a quarter of the wealth of the richest tenth. And those lucky enough to inherit also tend to be those who have been helped in other ways. Higher income people — those in the top 20 per cent of lifetime income — are ten times as likely to have received an inheritance of more than £250,000 as those in the bottom half of lifetime incomes.

Different people will see those facts in different lights. Some will see an increased role for inheritance as something to be celebrated. Some will see it as a cause of deep anxiety.

The case against inheritance — and for an effective inheritance tax — has been put by philosophers for centuries. John Stuart Mill wanted to fix “a limit to what any one may acquire by the mere favour of others, without any exercise of his faculties”. If I get taxed on what I work hard to earn, how much more appropriate that I should be taxed on what I am merely gifted through the good fortune of having wealthy parents.

Yet when, in 2007, George Osborne offered to cut inheritance tax to facilitate wealth 'cascading down the generations' he was credited with a political masterstroke. Nobody much likes being taxed, but inheritance tax is specially hated. In the US “no taxation without respiration” is the rallying cry.

Two things explain this antipathy. One is the natural human desire to leave the fruits of one’s labour to one’s children. Up to a point this is always likely to trump considerations of wider social equity. A second, though, is the inadequacy of the current system. It is not hard to avoid inheritance tax if you have serious money, not least by the simple expedient of passing it on at least seven years before you die — not an option for those of us whose wealth is tied up in a home and a pension. There is also the complete absence of inheritance tax on agricultural land and on certain business assets. And that’s before you get into trusts and other such vehicles.

All of which is another way of saying the current inheritance tax doesn’t seriously try to tax transfers of wealth between the generations, certainly not for the really wealthy. That inevitably undermines support for it among the home-owning classes who are, or might be, caught in its net.

So it's really time to look again at this tax and try to close some of the most obvious loopholes. It hasn’t been seriously reviewed since it was introduced in its present form in 1986. One option, favoured by Tony Atkinson, is to move to a system of taxing receipts of gifts and inheritances. This would both tax what we presumably want to tax — the receipt of wealth — and get round the advantage enjoyed by those lucky enough to be able to pass on a lot during their life without paying tax.

There is no pretending, though, that this would be easy politically or administratively. It really is hard to tax transfers of wealth. We should do what we can to make the tax system fairer and more effective. But the real challenge must be to make inheritance matter less. That means action in the housing market — building more houses, cutting stamp duty, increasing council tax on more expensive properties. It means doing still more to promote social mobility through education and skills policy. And it means tilting policy away from supporting the relatively wealthy old towards the less wealthy young.

This article was first published by The Times and is reproduced here in full with permission.