Lost Ideals: Conservatives in the New Age of Inheritance


Over the past year, Demos has been leading on a major piece of work, supported by abrdn Financial Fairness Trust, around inheritance in the UK. We found that we are in the midst of a ‘New Age of Inheritance’, where over £100bn in inheritance and gifts are being transferred between generations. Listening to the public through our latest research paper, The Inheritance Tax Puzzle, we found a nuanced set of attitudes towards inheritance and taxing it.

Ultimately, the future of policy on inheritance (including taxation) will be decided by politicians. So as part of this programme, Demos is launching two papers on what The New Age of Inheritance means for the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. The first, Lost Ideals: Conservatives in the New Age of Inheritance, is out today today.

This paper looks at the philosophy of conservatism and how those values have been applied over time by the Conservative Party on the issue of inheritance, before considering what these ideas mean for the future. In summary, the ‘idea of inheritance’ is core to a Conservative vision of a good society.  However, that vision has narrowed in recent years, becoming increasingly focused on our individual rather than our collective, civic, inheritance. This in turn has seen the policy debate within the Conservative Party narrow, particularly around viewing inheritance primarily through the prism of taxation of property assets. The paper concludes by offering a perspective on how the Conservatives can draw on their traditional values to return to the idea of inheritance as a part of a ‘dutiful partnership’ between people, their families, the country and future generations.