Home ownership is a distant dream
Ruth Davidson posed a conundrum that will chime with many young Scots. The Scottish Conservative leader spoke of the conflict for millennials in swathes of small town Scotland between staying locally and struggling to find a well-paid job and heading to the UK’s major cities, where there is little prospect of getting on the property ladder.
A report out this weekend revealed parts of Courier Country are among the most expensive areas in Scotland.
The Bank of Scotland research put Perth and Dundee in the top 10 priciest places in the country to buy a home based on cost per square metre.
Edinburgh, of course, topped the list. At the other end of the scale, Glenrothes and Leven offered the cheapest housing. As ever, the jobs tend to be where the house prices are steepest.
Out-of-reach house prices are not a new phenomenon, of course but with wage stagnation continuing and the cost of living rising, the dream of home ownership for many becomes ever more distant.
On top of that, the hangover of the financial crisis of 2008 means even those who can afford the mortgage repayments are unable to meet the deposit demands.
Since the end of the last century, the proportion of 16 to 34-year-olds owning their home has dropped from 53% to 32%.
Over the same period, 1999 to 2015, those living in the private rented sector has soared from 13% to 41%, while the number of adults living with their parents has gone up.
This is a major concern for young people but the subject does not seem to feature highly in political discourse.
The Scottish Government has claimed success with its flagship Help to Buy schemes, with 10,000 households benefitting – mostly firsttime buyers and aged 35 or under.
However, Labour analysis revealed the median household income of those taking advantage was well above the average salary in Scotland of £27,000 a year. This month the Scottish Government’s poverty adviser Naomi Eisenstadt told Nicola Sturgeon there is a gap in provision for those low income households who are not eligible for social rent but cannot afford to buy.
She called for new schemes to help lower income first-time buyers. Failure to do so, she warned, would see wealth inequality between generations only grow wider.
Ms Davidson identified these wannabe homeowners as exactly the aspirational demographic a rebooted brand of modern Conservatism should be reaching out to.
However, she bemoaned the lack of ideas coming from the top of her party at UK level and called on Theresa May and company to reposition the Tories as the party of opportunity.
The issue looks likely to be squeezed out in favour of the head-butting exchanges over the constitution, whether it be Brexit or independence.
That will only serve to reinforce the view that politicians are out of touch with what younger voters really care about.
The proportion of younger home owners is dropping – and politicians don’t seem to be bothered.