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 per cent of the UK population believe Brexit has widened the gap between the old and the young.
But a report published today by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Integration and launched at the University of Bath’s IPR suggests that introducing a penny charge on self-service checkouts and ‘unplugging’ for the day could help bridge the generational gap.
The report, Healing the Generational Divide, was officially launched by Chuka Umunna MP, who chairs the APPG, with backing from social integration charity The Challenge.
It marks the half-way point in the inquiry into intergenerational connection and 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.
Its suggestions 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 over £30m which could then be used to fund intergenerational and community projects.
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.
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.
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.”
Dr Matt Dickson, Deputy Director of the Institute for Policy Research, will speak 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.”
Various research projects from the University of Bath relate to the theme of today's event. These include the loneliness in the digital age project, led by Professor Julie Barnett and which is all about using digital technologies to tackle episodes of loneliness for isolated communities; Bath’s involvement in Channel 4’s unique experiment ‘Old People’s Home for 4 year olds’ (via the work of Professor Malcolm Johnson); and a pioneering project known as ‘REACT’ (Retirement in Action) designed to help older people stay fitter and live independently for longer (led by Dr Janet Withall).
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."