We’ve been thinking about inequality a lot this month, following the publication of our report with the Resolution Foundation (see Project in focus below). It found that whilst the poorest 30% had seen their wealth increase by an average of £88 per adult during the pandemic, the richest 10% have had an average increase of over £50,000 per adult. This was due to the unique conditions for the wealthiest created by a lack of spending opportunities and rising asset prices, especially housing. However, those on lower incomes tend to spend more on essentials, and do not own their homes, and many will be hit by a cut in Universal Credit later this year. The benefits have been skewed to the richest by a ratio of more than 500 to 1. We really weren’t all in the same boat.
Project in focus: The Wealth Audit
In partnership with the Resolution Foundation, we are working to improve understanding of the role of wealth in 21st century Britain.
Wealth has grown significantly in recent decades, increasing from three to nearly seven times our GDP (or £13 trillion) since the 1980s. This shift is driving major changes for Britain – from fast-growing inheritances, to generational gaps, and a decline in the role of income in determining lifetime living standards. Despite the growing importance of wealth, there has not been (until fairly recently) an increase in its role in our policy and research debates. To date the project has produced the following reports:
Annual state-of-the-nation reports on the country’s wealth:
A focus on how we are going to pay for society’s needs following the pandemic, which includes a proposal on how we can fund social care. We definitely need to raise more funds for the latter but National Insurance rises are not the way forward:
A further in-depth look at the nation’s wealth will be published later in the year.
Stat of the month
44 recommendations for improvements
The joint Administrative Justice Council and JUSTICE Working Party published its report Reforming Benefits Decision-Making earlier this month. The report makes 44 suggestions for improvements to the system, aimed at creating a benefits system that prioritises dignity and respect and places the user at its heart.
What we like this month
Six former Conservative work and pension secretaries have called on the Chancellor not to cut Universal Credit by £20 in September. Unfortunately he’s not taken their advice, but there’s still time. If the cut goes ahead, research for the Foundation by the Fabian Society has found over 700,000 people will be pushed into poverty.
SLF in the news
Our take on the Universal Credit cut was reported in Your Money
The results of the Wealth Audit were the subject of an editorial in the Guardian and widely covered elsewhere including in the Daily Mail.
JUSTICE’s report on challenges to benefits refusals was reported in Scottish Legal News
Podcast of the month
On the theme of inequality, The Bias Diagnosis, a podcast by Ivan Beckley, a student doctor, looks at the disparity in outcomes between white and minority ethnic patients. He talks to patients who have been misdiagnosed due to medical professionals’ bias.
It’s shocking and troubling, but also informative and well worth a listen if you have audible.