October’s headlines have been dominated by the backlash against the Government’s planned tax credits cuts. As experts from the IFS have warned, these cuts will see the working poor will lose out to the tune of thousands of pounds each year. Thankfully this message seemed to get through to the Lords at least, who voted to delay cuts – forcing the Chancellor to reconsider how to mitigate their impact.
The Government’s priorities had already been confirmed earlier in the month at Conservative party conference, when David Cameron announced a new focus on equality of opportunity, disappointingly choosing to turn away from his pre-Prime Ministerial concern for equality of outcome.
Tax cuts for the rich funded by welfare cuts for the working poor; newly announced grammar schools taking a giant leap backwards for social mobility; and reports that malnutrition and Victorian diseases are soaring – it can sometimes feel like a tidal wave of bad news on inequality. Luckily there are plenty of people who want to help push back.
Here’s some of the recent work by us, and local groups, to do just that, with a roundup of the most significant developments on inequality over the last month.
NEWS FROM THE EQUALITY TRUST
In a front page story in the Independent we commented on the EHRC’s finding that young people are suffering the worst economic prospects for several generations, pointing out that our distorted economy only benefits a tiny wealthy ‘elite’. We explained in theNew Statesman why Labour MP Frank Field’s alternative tax credits policy would offer even worse work incentives than the government’s proposals. City Metric published our argument that Jeremy Corbyn’s rail renationalisation plan must include a far fairer form of subsidies if it is to tackle inequality. And this week we contributed to a Vice report on tuberculosis rates in London with comments on how the income gap leads to huge health inequalities between rich and poor.
Several blogs have also referenced our work this month, with London Assembly member Jennette Arnold using our regional inequality figures for Left Foot Forward; sustainable transport campaign group Greener Journeys citing our research on transport subsidies; and a Unite blog for the TUC including our views on trade
unions’ role in keeping inequality in check.
We also blogged on:
NEWS FROM THE GROUPS
Group News: The main work of local groups at the moment is around Make My Council Fair (with North Somerset group leading the way with an FoI request to their council) and/or screening The Divide documentary (inspired by The Spirit Level).
In October there were community screenings organised by the London, West Midlands, Swindon and Cumbria groups and in November there are screenings being organised by the Reading (6th) and Glasgow (29th) groups. Many groups are also actively supporting Living Wage Week.
My Fair London, as well as launching its new website, continue their sterling work in support of the London Fairness Commission which has just published its interim report and is now organising a series of public engagement events around the capital (see LFC website for details). The group also held a successful event with Zoe Williams (from the Guardian) based around her new book "Get It Together" and has supported the start of a new
local group in West London.
The Swindon group reports a successful meeting led by the Bishop of Swindon of with 'movers and shakers' from the town on how to address inequality and poverty. It's early days but the group says the signs are promising.
Hampshire group are currently working on living wage and pay ratios as well as building links with a group from Hampshire county council looking at different types of social inequality.
Bristol group are gearing up for the Economics of Hope conference on 7th November while the West Midlands group report an extremely busy autumn where the emphasis has been on connecting and working with other campaign groups including Compass, Christian Aid, Quakers, Friends of the Earth and other local organisations (such as Impact Hub Birmingham and Eco-Sutton) on a series of events.
New Groups: We are delighted to announce the return of the Norwich Equality Group and if you live in the area and want to get involved, please contact Bill Kerry for further details.
TO CHECK current group listings and contacts and get useful advice please visit here.
TO START a Local Group please contact Bill Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org
PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENTS
The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report showed that 1% of the world's population now owns half of all wealth.
The widening gulf between rich and poor parents is creating greater child inequality, warned the OECD.
ONS statistics revealed that life expectancy inequality between people in routine jobs and people in higher managerial and professional jobs has increased since 1982.
Scotland's four richest families are now “worth” £1 billion more than the poorest 20 per cent of the population, said Oxfam Scotland.
The IMF suggested that higher unionisation can help reduce inequality.
Sutton Trust research found that the best apprenticeships are disproportionately populated by those from wealthier backgrounds.
British economist Angus Deaton, who has written extensively on inequality, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.
LOW AND HIGH PAY
New Policy Institute research for Trust for London found that the number of London's 'working poor' has surged 70 per cent in 10 years.
The Resolution Foundation forecasted that the number of UK workers on the minimum wage will double by 2020.
The ONS estimated that almost six million employee jobs in the UK pay less than the real Living Wage.
Foreign Office cleaners claimed they were being punished for writing to the Minister about their employer not paying the Living Wage.
Staff at Aldi will receive a minimum wage of £8.40 an hour, the company announced.
Barclays confirmed it would pay its new chief executive up to £8.24m a year, which is over 300 times average earnings.
The Family and Childcare Trust reported on the ‘want-to-work mothers’ trapped at home by the prohibitive cost of childcare.
Shelter calculated that to buy one of the government’s ‘starter homes’ you would need to earn £50,266 a year - or £76,957 in London.
POVERTY AND SOCIAL SECURITY
The Telegraph reported that Lord Sugar claimed there is no such thing as real poverty in the 21st century.
Housing associations reported that tenants are moving from financial exclusion to real poverty.
Planned welfare cuts will lead to 200,000 more working households in poverty by 2020, found Resolution Foundation research.
The Child Poverty Action Group calculated that blue collar workers will be up to £2,200 worse off because of tax credits cuts.
A US study showed that giving poor parents money improved children’s behaviour and reduced emotional disorders.
We rely on donations to keep our campaign going. If you found this bulletin interesting and informative, please consider supporting our work by signing up as a regular supporter or by making a one off contribution. You can also support our work by forwarding this bulletin to people you know who might be interested in our work. Thank you!