Interwoven socio economic inequality is the real route of social disadvantage National Equality Panel research reveals


In what can only be dubbed the most quantitative and detailed analysis of inequalities in the UK’s history, the National Equality Panel have found “Deep-seated and systemic differences” in British society in its commissioned research. The report entitled "An Anatomy of Inequality in the UK" warns the sheer scale of the inequalities in outcomes revealed in the report will be shocking for some readers. Notably its findings show that the divide between rich and poor is greater than at any time since the Second World War.
In 2008 The Panel were tasked by Harriet Harman, Minister for Women & Equality, to produce an in-depth report on inequality in the United Kingdom. Specifically they were asked to provide a factual analysis of how equality trends have changed over the last ten years and map out exactly where gaps have narrowed and widened in society. With a further remit to investigate how socio economic factors play a role.
Interestingly in looking at socio-economic factors the study branches this element out into:
Social class
Housing Tenure
Nation and Region
Level of deprivation
It’s not hard to imagine that this new strand of equality will be embedded with these considerations for policy makers going forward. Thus the sole focus of this new duty will not just be social class but potentially an array of economic factors.
Not surprisingly the Panel finds socio economic inequality a major interwoven factor that significantly affects outcomes. Factors such as where you grow up, the family you are born into and your parent's wealth can have a bigger impact on your life experience than other characteristics such as your age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or Religion the study concludes. For example while it’s widely known that gender pay gap still stands at around 21% between men and women, even bigger disparities in income exist between lowest earning women and the highest, standing at a staggering 350%.
The sheer power of the cumulative effect of socio economic differences effects key stages of our lives and is passed down generations. Socio economic background is a major factor having a lasting effect on outcomes in education, health, income and wealth the panel argues.
The report also claims that most of the widening of the income gap took place during Conservative rule. "Over the most recent decade, earnings inequality has narrowed a little and income inequality has stabilised on some measures, but the large inequality growth of the 1980s has not been reversed," it states. .
Key findings:-
*Household wealth of the top 10 per cent of the population is £853,000 and above – 100 times higher than the wealth of the poorest 10 per cent, which is £8,800 or below.
*Income equality has not improved for 20 years, but has stalled somewhat from period of rapid growth that took place between the late 70’s to the mid 90’s.
*Ethnic Minorities have seen an improvement in educational performance. However this success is not being carried over into the workplace with ethnic minorities still being paid less than their white counterparts.
 * By the age of 7, children with a higher social class background but low assessed ability overtake those from a lower social class background who were initially assessed as having high ability.
* Within four years of graduation, men who went to private schools earn over 8% more than one would expect after allowing for their ethnicity, occupation, degree class and subject taken.
* Income inequality at work feeds through to inequality in retirement. The median wealth of higher professional and managerial retired households is more than four times the median for retired households whose jobs have been classified as semi-routine.
The findings have received widespread media coverage with the Labour government receiving intense criticism for doing little to reduce inequality during its 13 year reign and its pledge to tackle poverty. Gordon Brown has called the report “sobering” whilst the Conservatives equalities spokesman Theresa May has commented: "It is unbelievable that Labour thinks it can claim to be the party of aspiration when its failure to tackle the causes of poverty have let down so many lives”.
Chair of the panel Sir Professor John Hills has called for policy intervention at key stages of the life cycle stating “intervention can make a difference”. Without specific policy suggestions the panel propose looking at specific social issues to create better equality of opportunity. In total the document highlights 16 challenges for policy makers which if addressed will make a difference.
The full report, summary and executive summary are available to download from the link below
National Equality Panel/Publications

Posted by Dizali Mentha


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