The government must rein in pension promises, or find the funds to back them as the state's unfunded liabilities approach £6trn, argues the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS).
In a paper published today, CPS fellow Michael Johnson argued the racking up of unfunded promises was an "intergenerational injustice" caused by politicians fawning over older voters.
Looking at the Treasury's Whole of Government Accounts, he said the gap between the nation's assets and liabilities had grown 51% in the five years to March 2014 to £1.85trn.
Once the future cost of the state pension is included the deficit is close to £6trn, or £221,000 for every household.
Johnson said that Generation Y - those born between 1980 and 2000 - would foot the bill for the benefits that would be enjoyed by the baby boomers born between 1945 and 1960.
He has come up with six proposals to make public accounting and policy-making more transparent and to put a brake on the accumulation of deferred costs.
These include setting up an Office of Fiscal Responsibility to scrutinise tax reliefs, five-year sunset clauses on all such reliefs, and the introduction of intergenerational impact assessments.
But Johnson said the government would ultimately have to stop making unfunded promises, or fund them now, which would require increasing tax - which the government has pledged to make illegal for this parliament - or cutting other benefits.
He said: "Baby boomers have become masters at perpetrating intergenerational injustice, by making vast unfunded promises to themselves, notably in respect of pensions.
"Indeed, such is their scale that if the UK were accounted for as a public company, it would be bust. In any event, Generation Y will have to foot the bill."
In an introduction to the paper, ShareAction chief executive Catherine Howarth said the figures should have a "profound political impact".
"You do not need to be a member of the hapless Generation Y to feel disturbed and surprised by the analysis in this pamphlet," she said.
"The reality is that those of us in Generation X, and our baby boomer parents, have only been dimly aware of the societal injustice we are inflicting on the youngsters of today."
1: The UK’s Whole of Government Accounts balance sheet should include a liability to represent future State Pension payments, based upon a realistic expectation of the future cash outflow, discounted using the UK gilt yield curve.
2: Draft legislation which, if implemented, would produce unfunded spending commitments, should be accompanied by an intergenerational impact Assessment to quantify the impact on the young, i.e. future taxpayers.
3: An Office of Fiscal Responsibility should be established, under the aegis of the Chancellor, to scrutinise the effectiveness and value for money of all tax reliefs and exemptions.
4: All tax reliefs and exemptions should be subject to a five year sunset clause, after which they would cease. Lobbyists should be requested to present their cases directly to the proposed Office of Fiscal Responsibility, to ensure blue water between vested interest groups and ministers.
5: Departmental budgets should be set both gross and net of expenditure on tax reliefs and exemptions, to ensure transparency as to the true level of financial support to each area of public policy.
6: The Prime Minister should embellish his doctrine of personal, professional, civic and corporate responsibilities by adding a fifth category: intergenerational responsibility.
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