Friday, 24 October 2008
The Real Story of UK Inequality
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Growing Unequal? report published on 21st October 2008 found that "since 2000, income inequality and poverty have fallen faster in the UK than in any other OECD country" and the head of OECD's social policy division, describes it as "remarkable".
This conflicts with the report Poverty and inequality in the UK: 2008 by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published in June this year, which found that in the UK "income inequality has risen for its second successive year and is now equal to its highest-ever level (at least since comparable records began in 1961)".
According to the OECD, the "the gap between rich and poor is still greater in the UK than in three quarters of OECD countries". It also states that "the wage gap has widened by 20% since 1985", and that "child poverty rates are still above the levels recorded in the mid-1980s".
Poverty and inequality is still yet to be tackled by New Labour. Even on the terms of the OECD report there is a real inequality problem which the Government needs to address. However, neither the IFS nor OECD reports look at wealth – which has been increasingly concentrated in the hands of the richest. Wealth inequality has risen massively in the last twenty years.
Unless there is a substantial shift in policy, this will be the first Labour government to leave office with society more unequal than when it came to power. Its legacy will also be the most unequal society in living memory.
Download the LEAP report: The Real Story of UK Inequality for a full evaluation of UK inequality, and policy solutions to reduce it.