‘The economy is not working for millions of people and needs fundamental reform’ says the September 2018 final report (pdf) from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Commission on Economic Justice.
The report argues that a fair economy is a strong economy: prosperity and justice can, and must, go hand-in-hand. But it is not sufficient to seek to redress injustices and inequalities simply by redistribution.
The report finds:
- For most people, the last decade has seen little or no improvement in living standards. In 2018, average (median) earnings remain 2–3 per cent below their level in 2007–8; indeed, they are not much higher than as far back as 2002
- A proportion of people enjoy high-quality jobs, with good salaries and working conditions. But increasingly large numbers have found themselves in poor and precarious jobs on low pay
- Overall, 14 million people (22 per cent of the population) live on incomes below the poverty line after housing costs; this includes four million children, or nearly one in three, and the number is rising
- Forty-four per cent of the UK’s wealth is owned by just 10 per cent of the population, five times the total wealth held by the poorest half, while the richest 1 per cent are estimated to own 14 per cent of the nation’s wealth
- Median incomes in the North West, North East, West Midlands, Wales and the South West are now more than 30 per cent lower than in London and the South East; in Scotland, more than 20 per cent
- Many of the UK’s older industrialised and coastal towns have seen a palpable decline in their local economies, with few good jobs available, high rates of unemployment and many people dropping out of economic activity altogether.
In order to tackle the injustices and inequalities, the report concludes that they to be tackled at source, in the structures of the economy in which they arise. Economic justice needs to be ‘hard-wired’ into the way the economy works.