Building on the last post on 7 things that hold black children back from succeeding. This is the current Economic status of black people in the UK relative to other groups:
On home ownership
According to .gov.uk:
On pensions assets:
According to a January 2020 report by the People Pension, compared to White ethnic groups,
The average gap between a female pensioner from an ethnic minority group and male pensioner from white ethnic groups is 51% (half). This figure is 27% for an ethnic minority male pensioner.
The average ethnic minority pensioner has £3,350 less in annual pension income.
Ethnic minorities are also less likely to qualify for auto-enrolment into a work place pension because they are more likely to earn less than the auto-enrolment threshold of £10,000.
According to gov.uk:
In the year ending March 2019, the median annual household income in each quintile before housing costs were paid was:
If we look at the bottom two income quintiles, that is the lowest 40% of income earners,
These figures are before housing costs. The picture changes a little bit after housing costs but I chose to present the ‘before housing costs’ picture because there is a degree of discretion with regards to how much a household decides to spend on housing.
While there are income disparities that will feed the gap between the assets of the rich and the assets of the poor, I feel as though the reasoning behind the asset differential is very basic and needs further exploration.
On job security:
Do ethnic minorities just work less and as a result earn less?
No! According to gov.uk:
Based on these stats, the employment rate for black people is 8 points lower than the average for the population and 15 points lower than for Whites.
In addition, it’s worth noting that Black people and other minorities are more likely to be self-employed, be on zero hours contracts and are generally more likely to be employed in less secure lower income jobs including as part of the gig economy.
Two things stand out as definitely missing:
The UK doesn’t have an identical history to the US and certainly I don’t think UK mortgage lenders discriminate according to race directly or indirectly but if someone thinks they do, I’d love to hear their story.
Remittances are a key component of economic growth in Africa. According to Pew Research, "money sent by the African diaspora to their home countries in sub-Saharan Africa reached a record $41 billion in 2017...a 10% jump in remittances from the previous year", another source suggests $46 billion was remitted in 2018, that would be the official figures but billions more are remitted via unrecorded channels. Official development aid to Africa was just shy of $52.8 billion in 2017 (OECD 2019 statistic). Provided this money isn't all being used for consumption, wealth accumulation by Africans is underestimated if we look purely at wealth held by the diaspora within the countries they live.
In addition, after discussing the issue of low rates of home ownership with my African peers other factors to consider include:
According to research from the University of Manchester,
FACTORS THAT COULD HOLD BLACK PEOPLE BACK
When it comes to discrimination in the labour market, some of the same things that lead to targeting or discrimination in the formative years (as described in my previous post) can also adversely affect the likelihood of black people getting well paid jobs:
So there you have it. This is a summary of the current wealth and income stats for black people in Britain. I think it raises a lot of questions. I would love for people to contact me and leave a voice message or a note at katsonga.com/coach or as a comment on this post explaining what they think has helped them succeed or what they believe is holding them back from progressing to higher levels in their career and in building wealth.
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I thought it would be fitting to end the 2020 series of The Money Spot podcast with a series on the Economics of being black. The issue I would like to explore first is a list of things that could hold a child back before they are even 18.
Where possible, I will depend on UK studies and statistics but if that’s not possible reference will be made to US studies where much more research on race tends to be available.
Having a name that is perceived as “different” may be a factor that exacerbates a black child’s feeling of otherness, of being different to the mainstream.
In the worst case, it may lead to teasing or just feeling discomfort and insecurity with what might seem like innocent questions from teachers, like “how do you say your name?”
I’ll talk more about names in my piece about what holds black adults back.
Personally, our desire for our children not to be discriminated against in mainstream British society was a key consideration in name selection. We want them to blend to the extent possible and didn’t feel that name was an issue they should need to deal with in addition to everything else.
Is there an issue more contentious? My son noticed the difference in his hair before he mentioned that his colour was different to that of everyone else in his class.
There are many anecdotal examples of black children being treated in an unfair way at school on account of their hair, for example:
But, while a name and hair, in addition to skin colour may add to a feeling of being different, there are real and recent statistics from the Social Market Foundation and other research organisations to show that black children are discriminated against at higher rates:
3. The perception of being threatening
There is a perception and stereotype of being threatening which especially haunts black boys. In studies, black boys as young as 5 years old have been perceived as more threatening compared to similar aged white boys which is a scary fact. This has been elicited with tests of association of faces and objects like guns or puppies rather than by asking directly.
And where as being “tall and dark” would give a white boy advantages with perceptions of stature, strength and athleticism – for a black boy the exact same tallness and darkness may only serve to make them appear more threatening and with that all the disadvantages: more regular police stop-and-searches and fewer opportunities. This sentiment is my own, rather than from elsewhere but it is something that recently occurred to me as a risk.
4. At-school and In-class discrimination
The Social Market Foundation reports that “discrimination in education frequently takes place outside of the syllabus. There are a range of institutional practices that underpin Black students’ exclusion and, ultimately, their educational attainment.” For example:
So, unfortunate as it is, black children especially black boys face discrimination at much higher rates at school.
I haven’t found any research to back it up but a friend who works in the field told me that some recent studies suggest that black boys are ahead of all other ethnic groups on entering school but within a year they are behind others because of the poor engagement they receive.
5. Low expectations
Akala in his autobiographical, “Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire” recounts how he was a gifted child, highly intelligent with a GCSE reading age by the time he was 7 and yet, he was placed in a class with children with learning difficulties. It took his (white) mother advocating for him and speaking up for this to change.
And in her time on Desert Island discs Sonita Alleyne, the first black Master of a Cambridge college admits that exactly the same thing happened to her when she arrived from Barbados as a young child. Placed in the special needs class, her mum walked into school and explained that her daughter’s accent wasn’t a sign or symptom of being stupid.
The most frustrating thing about these examples is that similar things are happening to many black children today and they don’t have an advocate. What of those children that reveal they want to be a doctor, lawyer or astronaut that are told to be realistic and guided towards nursing, hair dressing, plumbing and other manual jobs. Or towards sports and more artistic jobs like music – yes, there are more examples of black people succeeding in these fields but this is simply because you can’t pretend the boy or girl who came first in the 200m sprint actually didn’t. If nurtured correctly there’s nothing to stop black children excelling in any and every field.
Further, many black children up and down Britain simply assume it’s “stupid” or “unrealistic” for them to aim for Oxford and Cambridge and there is no one there telling them otherwise. Conversely, the majority of those in private schools assume it’s a given that they are expected to apply to the top universities.
Not long ago women had many of the same challenges – in her time on Desert Island discs retired surgeon Averil Mansfield (born in 1937) says her mum told her to lie she wanted to be a nurse rather than admit she wanted to be a doctor to avoid the mockery. Any girl can say they want to be a doctor now and no one would bat an eyelid and that is the position I would love all disadvantaged children and black children specifically to get to.
People can live in a vicious cycle of poverty from which they struggle to escape.
What proportion of black children live in poverty?
The Social Metrics Commission found that almost half of people living in a family in the UK where the head of the household is black are in poverty. This compares with 19% or about a fifth for white people.
This means black-headed households in the UK are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts.
Poverty comes with many disadvantages that you can probably list yourself, a few that are commonly discussed in the press include:
These are example economic factors but poverty, of course, also has negative social consequences, living in an economically deprived area may mean increased exposure to crime etc. According to research by the University of Manchester, “a fifth of its Black African, Black Caribbean, and Arab populations live in the country’s most deprived neighbourhoods compared to 8% of the white British population.”
I will tackle “social mobility” in my next instalment, for now it is enough to know that many more black children than white children are living in poverty and therefore do not have access to opportunities taken for granted by middle class and more well off children.
7. Single parent home
This data is a little old (from 2007) but is unlikely to have changed much so I will use it. According to a Metro article, “48% (almost half) of black Caribbean families have one parent, as do 36% (a third) of black African households.” This figure is 10% for Indians (and marginally higher for those of other South Asian background), 15% for the Chinese and 22% (a fifth) for whites.
90% of single-parent families are headed by mothers. Children who grow up without their biological father are more likely to be
I don’t want to stereotype the single parent with lots of dreary stats but suffice it to say having to manage as a single parent according to the data tends to exacerbate poverty – which stands to reason because one person equals fewer resources including services like washing, cooking etc rather than financial resources. It may also mean the child has less access to parental support for homework and possibly other emotional needs.
In summary, before a black child is even a teenager they may face major challenges with their development because they are:
If ALL school teachers could treated ALL children like they are special and going places regardless of race so much progress could be made in erasing educational inequalities between the races. And over the long run, erasing wealth inequality.
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Hey heather, thanks for your podcast, I find it incredibly useful because it's UK specific and everything else I find seems to be geared towards the US.
Anyhow, my name's Dee, I'm in my 50s and have been a military stay-at-home mum all my adult life although I went to university. Being a military wife has exposed me to so many countries and cultures which I love but you do sometimes encounter traumatic things so it's nice to settle in the UK.
My family currently rents and all our adult children live at home including one that is dependent.
We'd like to get on the property ladder but have been struggling with when and whether to do it. In the past I've left all the money stuff to my husband but now that the children are older I'd also like to start earning an income and I've been considering investment property. I want to gain some financial independence and I'd love to be able to help the children out financially.
I am so ready to make up for the time I spent raising children. I don't know if it was stupid not to use my degree sooner but I guess better late than never.
Keep helping with your posts! Thanks.
Thank you for this question that covers a very wide range of things. I am also very sorry that you have experienced something traumatic. Your life choices are not stupid, many women find themselves in circumstances that mean they have to stay at home with the kids for whatever reason so your question may well resonate with lots of other mums.
Being in my mid to late 30s, you will forgive me for providing what might sound like a slightly optimistic review of your situation.
Your question as it is framed requires me to speak to:
1.Providing for your children particularly the dependent child with medical needs;
2.Buying property as a home;
3.Buying property as an investment;
4.Earning an income for yourself;
PROVIDING FOR YOUR CHILDREN
By letting your adult children to stay at home rent free you are doing plenty. That alone should allow them to save for their own property deposits and is a financial boost many people including myself did not have. If I could have lived at home rent, free, that would have had me on the property ladder a lot sooner.
The other thing you could do is direct them to read the type of personal finance books that will give them ideas for how they can be financially responsible so that you don’t need to worry about them. I recommend The Richest Man in Babylon and The Millionaire Next Door as good starting points.
Does your child with medical needs financial support from you as well as general support for all their living? I won’t touch too much upon this except to say that make sure that you are accessing all the state benefits you can for the child’s support including the carer’s allowance if it is applicable.
BUYING A HOME
Firstly, as far as the UK is concerned I always advise that, if you get nothing else right, at least buy your own home.
From your message, it’s not clear whether or not you and your husband discuss finances but I am guessing that this may not be the case. Firstly, I would try to get the two of you on the same page. Working as a team when it comes to building wealth can really supercharge your financial health.
The UK property market is completely different to the US property market in so many ways so I’d be a little careful before taking advice on property from US authors and podcasters (lots of property advice on the internet tends to be US-focused that’s why I bring this up). To begin with the population density of the UK is 281 per Km2 (727 people per mi2); population density in the United States is 36 per Km2 (94 people per mi2). What does this mean? It means that UK property in many areas doesn’t see price crashes (too many people, too little land) and there is a propensity for house prices to be sticky upwards.
In addition, because US mortgages are fixed for the full term of 25 years whereas UK fixed terms are only for 3, 5, 7 or 10 years, interest rates are much lower in the UK compared to the US (almost half). The result of this is that very often the interest you pay on your mortgage is much much lower than rent. As an example, I live on a street where the rents range from £1,200 to £1,500, however, the interest we pay on our mortgage is just £350 (it was a 25% deposit mortgage). The full monthly mortgage payment is almost £1,000 but everything above the interest of £350 is money that will come back to us if we sell our home.
So, provided you can get a good deposit together, you will save a lot of money by buying a home rather than renting. In the long run owning where you live will give you a lot of security including the psychological comfort it provides.
At 50-something, you are not too old to get a mortgage and may even be able to get a mortgage of 20+ years, however, if you owned property abroad and sold it when you left then it’s worth buying the home outright.
Another thing to consider with regard to your financial security is that even the full UK state pension only pays £175/week per person (about £759/month) this would be double for a couple. If you live in a home that’s been completely paid off, no mortgage, then you can survive on the state pension relatively comfortably.
However, as you have lived abroad for many years you need to contact HMRC to see how many qualifying years you have. Your UK State Pension will be based on your UK National Insurance record. You need 10 years of UK National Insurance contributions to be eligible for any amount of the new State Pension and for people my age 35 years of credit are needed to get the full entitlement, you may be in the generation that only needs 30 years of credit.
You may be able to use time spent abroad to make up the 10 qualifying years. This is most likely if you’ve lived or worked in:
I would contact HMRC as soon as possible (link above) and ask what you need to do or pay to increase your entitlement to the UK state pension.
You may get National Insurance credits if you cannot work - for example because of illness or disability, or if you’re a carer or you’re unemployed.
You might also be able to pay voluntary National Insurance contributions if you’re not in one of these groups but want to increase your State Pension amount.
BUYING AN INVESTMENT PROPERTY
I recently read David Tarn’s “The Complete No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming a UK Property Investor: The 1-2-3 on Property Investing” and found it useful on the topic. The author is based in the North of England where property is much cheaper. He is into buying property and letting out the whole house to a single group like a family – so, standard single let properties.
In addition, I would recommend The Inside Property Investing podcast. There are over 300 episodes, if you binge listen to the episodes that appear interesting, you will move up the knowledge curve rapidly. The ‘Inside Property Investing’ podcasters are themselves heavily into High Multiple Occupancy properties (this is when you let a single property out to 3 or more unrelated people like students or professionals). However, the beauty of the podcast is that they regularly interview people on the show that follow a variety of different property investment strategies.
Don’t pay for any overly expensive property course before you’ve gained all the knowledge that is available for free or almost free – a friend of mine recently paid £24,000 for a property course, she went 50-50 with her daughter and even had to put some of the cost on a credit card! You’ve been warned.
For the basics on property investing I have a course up on Udemy for under £50. This will give you all the basic knowledge you need about the property buying process in the UK.
There are many jobs out there. If you just want to boost your confidence and get some money rolling in there are plenty of jobs out there provided you are not too picky about the pay as long as you get your foot in the door. If you want to build a work life for yourself have a look on jobs boards at what’s going and start applying. If you want to build a career within a specific field related to your field of study consider taking a course to freshen up your skills.
I have no idea what your salary expectations are but median UK income for 2020 is 30,800 according to the ONS. After tax that would bring home just over £2,000/month; if due to covid etc you secured a job with a salary of £24,000/year, that’s still £1,600/month which definitely isn’t shabby especially if your husband earns too. A GQ article gives an interesting breakdown on age, occupation and the covid-19 pandemic’s impact on earnings.
I hope this helps. Far from thinking you are too old. I am feeling soooo excited for you. This is a fresh start and even over a 15 year period you can build an amazing life and financial cushion.
Dear Miss Katsonga,
What is your opinion on Critical illness cover? What are the alternatives (for lump sum payout to cover mortgage or other debts) in case one partner is unable to work?
Very formal, Ronjoy…you can call me Heather.
So, you want to know how you can cover yourselves if one person is unable to work.
1. Critical illness cover
The first thing you mention is life insurance with critical illness cover. Typically people will have this on their mortgage insurance.
Mortgage insurance is usually decreasing term which means the amount by which you are covered falls over time roughly in line with your mortgage balance. The result is that if the person covered by the insurance falls critically ill near the end of the mortgage term the pay-out may be quite small but at least it would clear whatever mortgage is outstanding, if an appropriate level of cover was taken and updated if the mortgage amount was increased.
A problem with critical illness cover is that only specified illnesses are covered and different providers cover different things. This means if you or your partner get ill and can’t work and your specific illness isn’t covered then you don’t get a pay-out from the insurance provider.
The cover usually also has a condition that you need to be ill for a specific amount of time before a pay out is due to you, e.g. you need to be ill for 6 months plus or in an intensive care unit for at least 3 months and you’re not due a pay-out if you don’t fulfil those conditions.
2. Employment insurance
You can also buy insurance to cover you if you’re unemployed, e.g. due to redundancy. This type of policy would cover you even if you were not ill but may specify that you need to be unemployed for a given number of months before you are due a pay-out.
The key problem here is that unemployment insurance tends to be expensive during turbulent times. When I first started working in 2005 I bought unemployment cover and it was very cheap. When the 2008 crisis hit the cost of the cover increased so exponentially that I cancelled it, it wasn’t worth it.
3. Rental insurance
If you own rental property you can buy insurance to cover tenancy gaps. This could be a good idea so that you never have to worry about both being unemployment and having to support a vacant rental. The policy will likely state that the property needs to be vacant for specific amount of time before payouts are due.
I buy my rental protection via RentGuard, however, they did stop writing new policies when the government made it harder to evict non-paying tenants during the covid-19 pandemic so, it is not always available.
4. Emergency fund
A good idea would be to keep an emergency fund of 6 to 9 months of living expenses. This would give you peace of mind that you would survive even if you didn’t have both incomes coming in.
If only one person was unemployed, then a 6 month fund would last longer too,
5. Live on one income
Last, but certainly not least, if you arrange your finances such that your family can survive on the lower of your two incomes then the loss of one income is never something you need to worry about. This is our personal favourite.
Our household saves the equivalent of one income every month either as actually cash saved or as repayments on mortgage debt. Should one of us be unemployed the most we would have to do is call our bank and pay interest only for a limited period. Banks are usually very happy to do this.
In the long run, we would also like to build up a cash emergency fund but for now we do invest all disposable income and we have made peace with that risk.
Hope this helps.
p.s. subscribe to my podcast and ask me any money question, HERE - do it now!
Heather on Wealth
I enjoy helping people think through their personal finances and blog about that here. Join my personal finance community at The Money Spot™.