Whatever route we take, inequality will be the defining challenge of our age. Talk of ‘Inclusive Capitalism’ Socialism and various policy suggestions, debates and interesting conversations are propping up all over the place.
Lets take a quick look at inequality in the UK :
The Office of National Statistics last year (2014) found that the richest 1% of the UK had as much wealth as the poorest 55%. Oxfam calculated that five families controlled the same level of wealth as 13 million people, they also stated that the 85 richest people globally own the same wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest.
The Equality Trust calculates that the richest 100 people in Britain now have as much wealth as the poorest 30% of households. The top-to-bottom pay are reaching staggeringly high levels and even the IMF that great bastion of the left (oh wait) are getting jitters about it.
Let’s look at poverty:
Absolute Poverty is defined as not being able to meet basic needs, this has taken a fall globally & is considered to be very low in most ‘developed’ economies and falling in many others. Though recent reports suggest it may be on the rise in the UK and is definitely on the rise in Greece and Spain as austerity measures well beyond what we have experienced hit home.
While there is merit and much to be said in this regard the fall in absolute poverty is welcome but too slow and we are seeing the rewards of an increased focus on reducing absolute poverty, this has been relatively successful but has a long way to come yet.
Relative inequality however, defined as being below a certain threshold of median income. In the UK that is 60% of median income, there is also various types of relative poverty defined as spending more than a certain amount of a good, fuel poverty, food poverty and more.
See these links for the facts on :
Fuel Poverty: (Originally posted at UKProgressive)
Work has been done and thanks to pressure from below the UK is seeing a rise in the use of the ‘Living wage’, a wage calculated by the ‘Living wage foundation’ a rate at which people can afford to sustain themselves without having to draw on social security payments. There is however still five million workers on less than the ‘Living wage’. This is in part to do with the changing structure of the UK economy as manufacturing which used to offer secure jobs on good pay has slipped with 80% of employment now in the service sector.
The service sector which is categorised by flexibility in the labour force to meet changing patterns of demand and low pay (care and retail workers on zero hours and the minimum wage). This of course has meant that those in management positions who take home large incomes are outstripping everybody else in the economy exasperating inequality and many more workers than where ever intended are relying on ta credits to get by. This hollowing out of the secure jobs will have to make up the content of another post.
The question is how do we change it?
I attach a survey where you can put forward your ideas and vote on some of my ideas or generic policies :
Please share around and I will draw up the results for a future post.