Homing in on the ‘boomerang generation’

A record 3.35 million 20-34 year olds in UK still live at home, research shows

As yet another investigation is launched into the plight of the Co-operative Bank, a new round of the blame game was played out in Westminster yesterday. Photograph: Bloomberg

As yet another investigation is launched into the plight of the Co-operative Bank, a new round of the blame game was played out in Westminster yesterday. Photograph: Bloomberg


They are known as the “boomerang generation” – because they keep coming back home.

Latest government statistics show a record 3.35 million 20-34 year olds in the UK – more than one in four – are still living at home, a figure that has soared by almost 40 per cent over the past decade.

The stay-at-home trend has accelerated sharply since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, notably among the 20-24 age group, where almost half are yet to leave home.

It’s easy to see why – growing youth unemployment, student debt and soaring house prices have combined to make home ownership a distant dream for most youngsters. Even renting their own place is now beyond the means of millions in their 20s and 30s. Many of those youngsters who did strike out on their own – to go to university, for example – have found themselves forced to return home while they try to save for a deposit or find work well-paid enough to make it on their own.

A breakdown of the data from the Office for National Statistics reveals intriguing regional trends for the stay-at-home generation. London, where house prices are highest, has a surprisingly low proportion of 20-34 year olds still at home, at 22 per cent, whereas Northern Ireland leads the league table at 36 per cent.

The reason more young people in London have successfully flown the nest can probably be explained by the lure of the capital to those living in the regions and abroad. Some leave home to study in London or to find work, ending up in shared rented accommodation. According to the ONS figures, 7 per cent of households in London in 2013 consisted of two or more people who were unrelated, more than double the national average of 3 per cent.

There is also a big difference between the sexes, with young women far more likely to have moved out of the family home than their male counterparts, a trend the government statisticians attribute to women tending to form partnerships with men older than themselves – and old enough to have already made the break from their parents.

The figures are significant – there are 600,000 more women in the 20-34 age group living as part of a couple, and in their own household, than men of the same age. And while one in five women still live at home, the figure for men is one in three.

If things are grim for those still stuck in their childhood bedrooms at the age of 25 or 30, it’s not much better for those at the other end of the age range. A study from the University of Bath’s Institute for Policy Research says “funeral poverty” has leapt by 50 per cent over the past three years, which will leave 100,000 people struggling to pay for a funeral this year. Funeral expenses soared by 80 per cent between 2004 and 2013, taking the cost of a typical funeral to £3,458 (€4,203).

Westminster blame game
As yet another investigation is launched into the plight of the Co-operative Bank, a new round of the blame game was played out in Westminster yesterday.

It’s normally those hauled before the Treasury Select Committee who tend to lose their cool but this time there was acrimonious bickering among the cross-party committee members themselves.

City grandee Lord Levene was the one being questioned by MPs in his capacity as former chairman of NBNK, a vehicle set up to bid for the 630 bank branches put up for auction by Lloyds. NBNK lost out in that bid to the Co-op, which later pulled out of the deal as it became apparent its own business was on the brink of collapse.

Levene accused politicians of blocking his bid – which he says was higher than the Co-op’s offer – and of ignoring his warnings that the Co-op would be unable to complete the deal. Lloyds directors had acted unfairly and in “bad faith” he complained.

But the real drama at the hearing was an ill-tempered spat between Labour MP John Mann and the Tory committee chairman Andrew Tyrie. Mann accused Tyrie of being “out of order with your questioning and out of order with your chairing” – which should make for an interesting session next time the committee meets.

Meanwhile, news the accountancy firm KPMG is being investigated over its handling of the Co-op Bank’s accounts takes the number of probes into the troubled mutual to a grand total of seven, leaving plenty of scope for more frayed tempers in the future.

Fiona Walsh is business editor of theguardian.com

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.