We all know that house prices have got out of control, especially in London. Even so, it was chastening to learn that 40% of young people cannot afford to get on to the property ladder even if they have enough money to pay for the deposit.
While that statistic sounds terrifying, in London the equivalent number was 76% ie three people out of four under the age of 34 are either renting, living with parents or presumably camping somewhere.
In the accountancy sector, we are probably largely protected from the consequences, as the majority of our most valued employees can just about afford to buy a small flat once they have qualified. Even so, many might prefer a large house in a different region (or even country) to the cramped conditions that they would be forced to occupy in the capital or any other major British conurbation.
Support staff will almost certainly be struggling to buy a property, meaning that they are going to be even harder to come by than has been the case to date.
The difficulty in recruiting staff at various levels is the most common complaint whenever groups of accountants get together. There is a major gap at managerial level, caused by trainee recruitment freezes a decade ago as the recession bit, while many of us are finding it tricky to fill vacancies at almost all levels with high-quality employees. One fears that this is only going to get worse over the next few years unless there is a property market slump.
At a different level, many of those in senior positions in the profession are likely to have children who cannot afford to buy their own homes without a significant cash input from the old folks.
Even those who can afford to spare the odd half million may be reluctant to do so, particularly if they have large families. The alternative is to watch the grandchildren being brought up in rented accommodation, properties where they are obliged to share rooms with siblings or, once again, out of range in a location where house prices are at least a little more manageable and our only regular contact comes via Skype.
Where will it all end? Is it possible that, eventually, property prices in London will get to such heights that no young people will be able to invest in their own homes on the basis of a sensible multiple of salary? That is beginning to seem increasingly likely. Another equally terrifying prospect is that interest rates will take a hike following a no-deal exit from Europe, leaving even the relatively well-to-do displaced.
In theory, Philip Hammond might wave his magic wand at the end of the month and come up with a perfect solution in his Budget speech. However, as a fully signed-up accountant, I don't believe in magic, while Mr Hammond will probably have even more significant economic problems to resolve in his final visit to the dispatch box before the fireworks that he clearly anticipates commencing next March.