Theresa May is about to smash a record that has remained unbroken since the dark days of Margaret Thatcher. Without a reversal of policy, Britain is set to be the most unequal country it has been since the Iron Lady was at Number 10.
Theresa May and inequality
The numbers were crunched by the Resolution Foundation, for its UK Living Standards 2017 report. It found that British wages are stagnant, prices are rising, and £12bn of welfare cuts are removing the safety nets put in place to protect against both. The report makes clear that this rise in inequality is not the result of cyclical economic shocks, but UK government policy.
The outlook for living standards in 21st Century Britain does not look promising…
And the projections in this report on both the weak and regressive nature of income growth in the years ahead should concern us all. But they are far from inevitable.
So what? Why does wealth inequality matter? The answer was captured well in an excellent Comment is Free column by Aditya Chakrabortty recently:
There’s a lady I’ve been thinking about for the past few days, even though we’ve never met. She’s the central character in a true story told by the Europe expert Anand Menon. He was in Newcastle just before the referendum to debate the impact of Britain leaving the EU. Invoking the gods of economics, the King’s College London professor invited the audience to imagine the likely plunge in the UK’s GDP. Back yelled the woman: ‘That’s your bloody GDP. Not ours.’
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
Chakrabortty goes on to show how there is no single economy in Britain anymore, because overall GDP growth and economic performance no longer mean life is getting better for the majority of people in the country. For all the talk of economic recovery, only two regions in the UK are better off today than they were in 2007. Unsurprisingly, they are London and the south-east. No one living anywhere else is experiencing an economic recovery. And some are experiencing a depression.
Margaret Thatcher is famous for claiming that ‘there is no such thing as society’. Cameron’s legacy will be that there is no such thing as an economy – but a series of regional economies with vastly different prospects. A state-subsidised boom for inner London; a neglected pauperism for the Humber.
In short, governments are diverting public money from wealth-generating and health-generating projects that would create benefits across society. Quite literally: the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. And in a world where money buys better education, health, power and influence – it matters a very great deal.
The bottom line
The bottom line? Fewer and fewer people move upwards in life. And ever greater numbers join the ranks of the impoverished and destitute.
In The Spirit Level, professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett prove that more equal societies are also healthier, happier societies. Whether it’s life expectancy, mortality rates, educational attainment, likelihood of conviction and incarceration for crimes, or an array of other indicators, the authors (and a replication of their findings by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) demonstrate a correlation between inequality of income and inequality of outcomes.
Economic inequality is also hereditary; a social inheritance passed from parent to child. Research by Gregory Clark of the University of California found data to suggest that, in the same time period that neoliberal economic policies expanded, the economic inequality gap – the rate of social mobility (increased incomes and outcomes by successive generations) – declined for the first time in 1,000 years.
Enough is enough
For citizens across the world, outside the economic elite, rising economic inequality means rising inequality of health and wellbeing; and their inherited disadvantage is proving a barrier to improving not only their circumstances, but those of generations to come.
– Support The Canary so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
–Read the Resolution Foundation report yourself.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?