Tomorrow George Osborne will give his Autumn Statement. The temptation will be to boast of a growing economy, and a vindication of his programme of austerity. But Osborne has a problem. For many people economic growth is no longer an automatic signal of better times. In fact, for most, a larger Gross Domestic Product increasingly feels little more than an abstract concept.

As average wages continue to fall the scale of inequality has become harder to hide. More and more people are experiencing falling living standards and stagnating social mobility, and most have recognised this. Over 80% of people in the UK believe the gap between the top and bottom is too high. Even Boris Johnson had to change tack yesterday from his recent unsavoury comments and acknowledge that there is too much inequality.

With that in mind, George Osborne must apply one simple question to the policies he announces tomorrow “Will this decrease inequality?”

Rumours and briefings whirling around the Westminster bubble suggest that the statement will be a mixed bag in terms of inequality. Plans to help people struggling with energy bills could include cutting the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). This may appear good in the short term, reducing bills by as much as £53 a year. But in the long term it will mean fewer energy efficient homes for those at the bottom, resulting in higher bills in the long term, and 10,000 fewer jobs for those who would have adapted those homes. Those losing their jobs will not be the same people who are currently benefiting from massive bonuses at the top of energy companies.

Similarly the suggestion that there may be tax cuts for those on low earnings through an increased personal allowance show an attempt to help tackle low pay. But these cuts help those who are already well off more than those struggling to get by, who would see much of any gains clawed back through Universal Credit.

A much more promising plan would be the mooted policy to tax expensive property in the capital which drives up prices for everyone else. If this and other measures are better targeted at tackling the growing gap between the richest and the rest, George Osborne may just deliver an equitable recovery that improves the living standards of everyone.

Tim Stacey, Policy and Campaigns Officer