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Larissa Hansford

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Half Term Report - Government Must Do Better

Posted: 13/11/2012 16:00

Today marks the half term point for the coalition government. With two and a half years until the next election, let's rewind back to the last one in 2010.

Inequality was a major concern for both coalition parties. In their manifesto, the Conservatives called for a society in which "wealth and opportunity must be more fairly distributed". The Liberal Democrats meanwhile decried the fact that "Britain [is] one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, where ordinary people struggle to make ends meet."

The population too was concerned about these issues. In 2010, three quarters (74%) of people in England thought income inequality was too high. Yet a new publication, released this week by think tank One Society, has found that the coalition has done little to dent the UK's vast and damaging levels of income inequality.

The report, 'The Coalition Government and Income Inequality' gathers together contributions from academics, commentators and leading practitioners. It finds not only that inequality has not been reduced, but points to coalition polices actually producing a increasing gap between richest and rest, at the same time as average incomes fail to keep up with the rising cost of living.

This is backed up by a steady stream of publications, indicating that the gap between highest paid and those on average incomes is worsening and showing no signs of abating. Recent findings from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and KPMG show that millions of Britain's workers are earning less than living wage and finding finances an ever-increasing struggle. Meanwhile, average FTSE100 pay stands at over £4m a year.

The IMF itself has highlighted the need to tackle inequality if the economy is to recover, and public appetite is there too. In 2012, with support for living wage shooting through the roof and even two thirds of business leaders agreeing that bosses are paid too much, there is much support to turn rhetoric into action.

Political parties who want to be in the running for the next election will have to start taking notice of public anger about the UK's unacceptable levels of income inequality. They must set out credible and ambitious policies to achieve a meaningful reduction in our destructive levels of income inequality and arrest the damage to our health, society and economy.

 
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