Inequality needs to be tackled on all fronts

On the face of it inequality is a simple problem. A small number of people have too much money and a large number of people do not have enough. This can lead to “magic pill” solutions being proposed on the left and on the right of politics. For the left it often boils down to tax and for the right it usually comes down to opportunity.There is a snag here because, below the beguilingly simple surface of inequality, many drivers exist – and they all pretty much interlink. A multi-faceted problem therefore needs a multi-faceted approach. Redistributive taxes and greater opportunity both have their part to play but they cannot, alone, be the total solution. It’s hard to build a house with just a hammer. 

As we head towards the next general election we will be pushing the political parties to prioritise the reduction of inequality in their manifestos. In particular, we will be pushing for each party to commit to our Inequality Test where they include in their manifesto an explicit goal that the net impact of all their policies will be to reduce the gap between the richest and the rest. To meet this test the next government will need to develop a broad range of policies to tackle inequality across the economy – in areas like pay, taxes, life-chances and reforms to business – and we will be lobbying them hard to do so.

Overall, we should aspire to a social, political and economic culture that is intolerant of inequality, one that sees it as desirable and sensible to enact policies that reduce inequality. This might seem like a big ask from where we stand now but just consider how much inequality is now in the news compared to only a few years ago. Together we can help sustain this momentum and continue to build the necessary social movement that can usher forth the necessary political commitment to really get to grips with inequality and bring it down.

Bill Kerry, Secretary of the Equality Trust