Rising wealth inequality 'a threat to future generations'

By Agencies
October 24, 2017

The UK is a wealthy nation; but that wealth is very unevenly divided. A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) shows how these inequalities exist between individuals and families, between areas of the country, generations and genders, and between people from different ethnicities and class backgrounds.

Worryingly, says the IPPR, while wealth inequality fell for much of the 20th century, it is now rising again, and is set to rise further. Between 2010-2012 and 2012-2014, over half of the increase in personal wealth went to the top 10 per cent of households. A political focus on income inequality alone has masked the true extent of inequality in the UK.

Underlying these concerns, the report’s key findings reveal stark inequalities of wealth and highlight the drivers causing them to rise.

This research shows that, if the UK is to build an economy where prosperity is underpinned by justice, we need better public understanding of the distribution of wealth and the drivers of inequality and a stronger commitment to redressing them. Without a change in policy direction, wealth inequality is expected to worsen, with acute and deepening divides in wealth between regions, generations, and households.

The report also found that a majority of people would support new measures to equalise wealth. 

Commenting on the report, Dr Wanda Wyporska of The Equality Trust, said, "It's incredible to see the levels of inequality in this country, and to see politicians continue to bury their heads in the sand. This is not natural, it is the result of decades of political decisions that have benefitted the rich first, and left the rest of us behind. 

"The evidence is clear that more unequal countries such as the UK suffer from poorer physical and mental health, lower educational outcomes, and higher rates of violent crime. Is this the sort of country we want to pass on to future generations?

"Reducing inequality would provide huge benefits to society, and be overwhelmingly popular. The government, and all political parties, must develop a comprehensive inequality reduction strategy if they are to build a country we can all be proud of, and where everyone can fulfil their potential."

Separate research conducted by The Equality Trust, using data from the Sunday Times Rich List, found the gap may be even wider than the IPPR's research suggests, with the richest 1,000 people in the UK alone holding considerably more wealth than the poorest 40 per cent of households. The wealth of these 1,000 people increased by a staggering £82.5 billion last year, the equivalent of £226 million a day, or £2,615 a second. The Equality Trust has found that this increase in wealth of £82.5 billion could:

  • Pay the energy bills of all 25.6 million UK households for two and a half years. Cost = £79.15 billion OR
  • Provide 5,143,819 million Living Wage jobs, or 2,923,333 million jobs paid at an average salary. Cost = £82.476 billion OR
  • Pay the grocery bill for all of the UK’s users of food banks for 56 years. Cost = £81.5 billion OR
  • Pay two year’s rent for 4.5 million households (4,528,000 households).  Cost = £72.1 billion OR
  • Pay everybody in England’s council tax bill for a year. Cost = £27.6 billion OR
  • Pay for 68 per cent of the budget for the NHS in England Cost = £81.6 billion OR
  • Pay for four years of adult social care in England. Cost = £78.8 billion

Download the IPPR report, 'Wealth in the twenty-first century: Inequalities and drivers' here

* IPPR https://www.ippr.org/

* The Equality Trust https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.