Labour leader Ed Miliband is to warn of a “real and legitimate fear” that today’s children will have fewer opportunities for prosperity and happiness than their parents’ generation.
For the first time in more than a century, there is a risk that the new generation will find it harder to get an education, find a decent job and own a home than their mothers and fathers did, he will say.
Mr Miliband will describe the expectation that every generation will do better than the last as the “British promise” – the UK’s version of the “American dream” and he will say that this promise is in danger of being broken in the next generation.
Labour revealed private polling which suggests a large majority (71%) of Britons believe life will be harder for the children growing up today than it was for their parents, compared to just 9% who think it will be easier.
Speaking during a shadow cabinet awayday to Gateshead, Mr Miliband will say: “We may not have given it a name in the way that Americans talk about the ‘American Dream’ but it is there nevertheless.
“It is defined by the promise that each generation will pass on to the next a life of greater opportunity, prosperity and happiness. But for the first time in generations there is now a real and legitimate fear that the British promise will be broken and the next generation will have fewer opportunities and find it harder to get on than the last.”
He will add: “We have always been about a society where the promise of Britain can go beyond the most affluent – that lower and middle-income families can guarantee a better future for the kids.
“So I am determined that this is the challenge which will be at the heart of the Labour Party I lead. A Britain which passes on better chances rather than worse ones to our children.”
A survey of 2,374 people carried out for Labour by pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in November found rising levels of pessimism about the prospects for the younger generation, but it also found that it was the older generation who had the gloomiest view of the future.
Among under-45s, 63% of women and 60% of men thought the next generation would have a harder time, rising to 76% of women and 79% of men aged over 45.