The super rich one per cent are leaving everyone else behind

Are we still supposed to be “all in this together?”

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Inequality in Britain now means the richest one per cent of the population take home 15 per cent of total income – compared to just six per cent in 1979.

scroogeDanny Dorling, professor of human geography at Sheffield University,will tell audiences at the Royal Statistical Society’s Beveridge Memorial Lecture tonight:

The last time the best-off took as big a share of all income as they do today was in 1940, two years before the publication of the Beveridge Report, which became the basis of the UK’s welfare state after the Second World War.

“If we look back about 100 years, we can see that inequality in the UK did drop significantly in the 70 years from 1910-1979.

More than half of that drop in inequality took place prior to 1939. Since 1979 these inequalities have risen dramatically and continue to rise.”

Of course the post-1979 landscape is synonymous with the rise of Thatcherite economic neo-liberalism, ushering in massive inequalities in wealth, health and opportunity which became entrenched. An age still best summed-up by Thatcher in her infamous claim: “there’s no such thing as society”.

Professor Dorling argues that in the early 1940s, the ‘nine per cent’ – (the rest of the best-off ten per cent minus the richest one per cent) – were paid an average salary of 2.4 times average income – as they were in 1959, 1969 and 1973.

By 1990, however, as income inequalities widened, this ‘nine per cent’ were paid three times average incomes and that continued until 2007.


See also:

Cameron’s “back of a fag packet” welfare speech brings back Labour policies he’d scrapped 26 Jun 2012

Cameron is playing on the myth all housing benefit goes to the unemployed 25 Jun 2012

How the public massively overestimates benefit fraud 13 Jun 2012


But the gap is increasing not just between rich and poor but between the super-rich one per cent and the ‘nine per cent’ well-off – who have been dropping back towards the 2.4 historic average for the past five years.

Professor Dorling argues:

“As each year passes, and the richest one per cent get richer still, the rest of the best-off ten per cent increasingly have a little more in common with the remaining nine-tenths of society, and less and less in common with those at the very top.”

Are we still supposed to be “all in this together?”


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  • Anonymous

    Most of the top 1000 in terms of wealth in the UK are self made. Are you sugesting taking all of Branson’s money for the public good?

    Why have they become rich? Primarily because of hard work and because they spend less than they earn, and invest the surplus. That is the only way available for the poor and the middle class.

    So what’s the obstacles for the poor and middle class? Its taxation. When you tax a min wage earner 3K, that’s 3K they can’t save to get themselves out of poverty.

  • Wittgenfrog

    Don’t be so silly.
    I’m not doubting many of the ‘super rich’ have worked hard, many haven’t. That’s not the issue, which is that a significant and increasing proportion of the nation’s wealth (both capital and liquid) is being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.

    At the same time the majority’s share of this wealth is (by definition) diminishing. We work hard too y’know….

  • Selohesra

    Thus once you have reached some arbitary level of wealth you should stop trying to improve your position as it is unfair to concentrate any more in your hands. Foot off the accellerator – let someone else make the effort instead.

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  • Blarg1987

    Are you sure they are self made? 80% of the UK’s buisness millionairs are either born into wealth or have had indirect assistance from family. I have nothing against people who make their wealth from setting up a company, paying people a living wage, paying the taxes that they should morally pay that go into the local economy that generates more jobs and so more buisness which allows improved services that benefit themselves and wheir whole community.

    However I have to disaagree with people who set up a comapany, paying people no more then the minimum wage and so these people require state support to live, i.e social housing etc. These people then avoid pay the taxes they should morally pay which reduces investment and jobs in the local community the buisness they set up trouble then demand more state support by reducing working rights, pay and conditions of employees. Those peoples should be taxed to the hilt and treated with the same stigma and the media treats those who falsely claim benefits.

  • Anonymous

    That’s 3k which you can’t take off them to fuel your stocks. But it wouldn’t be 3k, it would be 5k…gotta boost the poverty premium!

  • Anonymous

    You’re irrelevant, as a worker, in this wonderful world of capital though. Capital wags the business tail, not the other way around. Moreover, it naturally gravitates to Corporatism, regulatory capture and ensuring it has a plentiful supply of corporate welfare (heck, it’s in it’s interest to keep unemployment high to suppress wages)

    There’s a reason I’m a mutualist, a free-market anti-capitalist. And that’s to fix that. To make people’s work important again. “To each according to their deeds”.

  • Anonymous

    Morality needs to be business law, as it is criminal. There’s no reason businesses should be allowed to engage in psychopathic behavior any more than people are.

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  • Selohesra

    “to each according to their deeds” – not a bad rule – so presumably you don’t object to some entrepreneur earning obscene amounts of money if their deeds create real value.

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  • Blarg1987

    Depends how it is done and if it benefits society as a whole i.e. a person constantly inventing new technologies to benefit peoples lives and paying living wages and taxes and employing more and more people.

    A person who keeps making people redundent exploiting people trying to reduce employees pay and conditions, not creating any new innovations to benefit society and avoids paying tax should not get more wealth as they do not really contribute to society, they just take away from society.

  • Anonymous

    It’s about de-emphasising unearned wages.

    I have no problem with an entrepreneur making loads of cash off a company’s work. I have a problem with him making billions from selling that company.

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  • JC

    Beware of what you ask for. If a company can’t be sold for profit. then what’s to stop the owner from bringing it to its knees with debt to build a retirement fund? The owner may be disqualified from further directorships, but they won’t care as they’ve retired. The staff at the company will care as their jobs will be lost.

  • Anonymous

    For one, he could sell, but a heavy tax rate would apply. For two, simple disqualification is clearly inadequate in the case of malice, 100% of the money he’d made by the manoeuvre is an appropriate fine.