Inequality is growing nationally and globally. It is corroding social cohesion and democracy. It is creating division. It is also holding back economic development and growth. However, too few politicians seem to regard inequality as important. Indeed, some of the Coalition government's policies have directly increased inequality and there is no indication that the Government has any strong desire to reverse this trend.
Nothing quite characterises the levels of poverty in austerity Britain better than the dramatic growth in the use of food banks in recent years. With record numbers visiting local food banks in many areas over Christmas - and January looking set to be their busiest month yet - it is clear that they remain a much needed resource for many working people as the Coalition government's cuts, poverty pay and harsh benefit sanctions take their toll on household incomes. How the government can stand by and refuse to act while so many people are struggling to make ends meet is beyond me. We need to work to boost wages, raise living standards and put an end to in-work poverty, food poverty and the cost of living crisis once and for all. We want a recovery that everyone can benefit from - not just the richest...
It may be a rebalance of the economic powers, but the planet is far from being the place of equality. Oxfam claims that "in 2010, it took 388 billionaires to equal the wealth of the bottom half of the world's population and by 2014, the figure had fallen to just 80 billionaires." If the trend continues, warns the humanitarian group, in two years the richest 1% will have more than the remaining 99%.
Today Oxfam announced that the combined wealth of the richest 1% will overtake that of the other 99% of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked. Inequality is spiralling out of control, but consensus on taking action against this issue of our time is gathering pace.
As long as the public continues to accept the assurances of the rich that we have to suffer so that they don't have to, the bitterness created will continue to create divisions between ethnic and religious communities that should be working together to destroy zero hour contracts and ensure proper funding for the NHS.
Their world hasn't fallen in. They don't depend on a few extra pounds in benefits to get them through the week, nor do they rely on social services to keep their families functioning. I somehow doubt that they use public libraries, or Sure Start centres, or community youth centres, or drugs rehabilitation units. Nor does anyone they know - family, friends, neighbours. In their world, nothing has changed. Executive pay continues to rise at obscene rates, and bonuses continue to be paid as if there's a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. So looking at the world through their eyes, yes, it's true. Everything's fine and dandy.