Labour’s “Robin Hood” legacy

Today's papers cover in detail the distributional impact of thirteen years of Labour rule. The picture represents a clear progressive redistribution.

Today’s papers cover in detail analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on the distributional impact of thirteen years of Labour rule. The picture is stunning and represents a clear progressive redistribution from rich to poor with those earning over £100,000 paying the most.

Newspaper reaction is unsurprisingly along partisan lines. The Guardian broadly praise the redistribution with a piece titled, “Labour’s tax and benefits strategy has closed the income gap, thinktank says”:

“The poorest 10% of households gained by 13% while at the same time the richest 10% saw their incomes cut by almost 9%. When households earning more than £100,000 were treated as a separate category, the figures showed they faced tax rises that cut their incomes by 15%…

“According to the IFS, middle income groups have neither gained nor lost from tax and benefit changes over the 13 years. Most rightwing commentators described the budget as the last in a long line of attacks on middle income earners. But the IFS figures show that while households in the higher income groups lose out compared with lower income groups, the effects are only marginal.”

Sean O’Grady in The Independent writes:

“The richest households in Britain are about £25,000 a year worse off as a result of changes to the tax and benefits system introduced by Labour since 1997 – while the “working poor” are better off by almost £1,700, or 13 per cent of their income…

“These figures, from the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), will bolster the Government’s claims that it has been sharing the burden of adjustment in the economy “fairly”.”

The Financial Times says “Rich hit hard by 13 years of Labour Budgets”:

“Not since 1974, when Dennis Healey was said to have threatened to tax the rich “until the pips squeak”, has a British government sought to redistribute income from the well-off to the poor so aggressively, the IFS analysis showed.”

The Daily Mail, unsurprisingly, have a different angle: “The fleecing of the middle class: How Labour’s punished any family earning over £30,000”. The average annual income is £24,000.

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39 Responses to “Labour’s “Robin Hood” legacy”

  1. Political Animal

    RT @leftfootfwd: GRAPHIC: Robin Hood government: Labour has taken from the poor to give to the rich http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  2. Ellie Gellard

    Robin Hood Govt. Labour has taken from the rich to give to the poor (via @leftfootfwd ) http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  3. Political Animal

    IFS figs on redistribution post-97 are interesting & encouraging, but seem at odds with Hills Report http://bit.ly/abZuQV (via @leftfootfwd)

  4. Ellie Gellard

    Thinking every Labour PPC should put this graphic up in their office. http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  5. Ben Cooper

    Robin Hood Govt. Labour has taken from the rich to give to the poor (via @leftfootfwd ) http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  6. Tank the Tories

    RT @leftfootfwd GRAPHIC: Robin Hood government: Labour has taken from the poor to give to the rich http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  7. Stephen Murray

    How the left and the right papers see income distribution under New Labour http://bit.ly/9FZeC0 (H/T @BevaniteEllie )

  8. Post Free Ads

    RT @BevaniteEllie Thinking every Labour PPC should put this graphic up in their office. http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  9. Pete Bowers

    RT @leftfootfwd: Labour's "Robin Hood" legacy http://bit.ly/9FZeC0

  10. Chris Brown

    @BevaniteEllie <Robin Hood government> How unbelievable is this! Spare us please! http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  11. Alison McGovern

    RT @BevaniteEllie: Thinking every Labour PPC should put this graphic up in their office. http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  12. Sevillista

    It is being misleadingly reported.

    What it is saying that the bottom 60% are paying less tax then they would have done if 1996-97 tax structures and rates were left in place, the upper middle are paying slightly more and the very top are paying significantly more.

    What it is not saying is the rich are worse of – they are far better-off and have gained far more than everyone else (inequality measured by Gini has slightly worsened, post-tax incomes
    of the top 1% have raced away).

    Shoddy reporting. Labour in taxing rich more than Tories chose to do shock, but unable to stop inequality increasing

  13. Silent Hunter

    Labour? . . . Robin Hood? HAH!

    Sevillista has more than adequately shown this for just more Labour Spin.

    Or as the rest of us know it . . . Blatant Lying!

    Under Labour; the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer . . . F A C T.

  14. Mr. Sensible

    What i find ineresting is that the right-leaning papers forget to mention that Osborne proposed to raid Child Trust Funds ETC for midle Britain.

  15. Mr. Sensible

    That of course should have been:

    What I find interesting is that the right-leaning papers forget to mention that Osborne proposed to raid Child Trust Funds ETC for middle Britain.

  16. Rory Doona

    RT @leftfootfwd: Labour's "Robin Hood" legacy http://bit.ly/9FZeC0

  17. Will Straw

    Sevillista – I think you raise an interesting point which is that despite the clear redistribution (by proportion of income), inequalities have continued to rise as a result of exogenous factors such as globalisation. The key for me is how much worse would it have been without these redistributive policies? The OECD last year had good stats on how well Britain had done in relation to other OECD countries. Perhaps the slope should have been even steeper but given other factors, this is a relative success story.

    Silent – No Labour spin here. I published a picture from an independent think tank and a range of commentary from different papers.

    What’s your evidence that the poor have got poorer? Surely what you meant to say is that over 13 years, the poor have got richer and the rich have got even richer.

    Mr. Sensible – Spot on, as ever. We all know the truth about the Tories. Under Thatcher/Major this graph would have been sloped the other way and the same will be true if they get in. There attack on CTF is just the start of it when you consider what they’ll do to child tax credits, the unfairness of the marriage tax break, and everything they’ll do to public services.

  18. Sevillista

    Silent – to be clear, Labour have done a good job at preventing worsening market inequality leading to spiralling inequality. This would be a very different story if the Tories were in!

    However, it is merely treading water. The gains of growth have disproportionately accrued to the very richest.

    Also, tax has not risen as a % of income since 1997 for all the shouting on the right. Hence the structural deficit.

  19. Thomas Williams

    @nickbent Stick this up in the office for when people are on the phones! http://bit.ly/abZuQV

  20. Nick Bent

    RT @tomwilliamsisme: @nickbent Stick this up in office for when people are on the phones! http://bit.ly/abZuQV <good stuff! Labour fairness>

  21. Tom

    How about those earning under £15,000 like myself who have been royally screwed by Labour?

  22. MusicMP

    RT @nickbent: RT @tomwilliamsisme: @nickbent Stick this up in office for when people are on the phones! http://bit.ly/abZuQV <good stuff! Labour fairness>

  23. First Income

    Labour's progressive legacy | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/ayWYGF

  24. Trade Income

    Labour's progressive legacy | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/ayWYGF

  25. Here’s a pledge….ditch neoliberalism! « Harpymarx

    […] there’s this graph from the Institute of Fiscal Studies that has been bandied about on blogs like Left Foot Forward. Put in the form of a colourful graph the information that the tax/benefits outocomes for different […]

  26. Mark M

    “The poorest 10% of households gained by 13% while at the same time the richest 10% saw their incomes cut by almost 9%.”

    I’m pretty sure that 9% of the richest decile’s net income is a lot more than 13% of the poorest decile’s. If this is Labour being “Robin Hood” then Robin Hood is sure taking a large slice of money away for his own purposes before he gives it to the poor.

  27. sdv_duras

    This from leftfootforward is interesting (intelligent comments as well) http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/03/labours-robin-hood-legacy/

  28. DumbAgent

    A lot of British news these days, with the upcoming election. How the same data can be interpreted differently: http://short.to/213×1

  29. Compagnero

    Mark M:

    The difference will have gone into additional services that the Labour government have creted that the tories would never do. Services such as Sure Start, additional free nursery provision… and these services benefit the poorest most.

  30. Rebecca

    Interesting point from Mark M

    But isn’t this part of the problem with wealth distribution: that a portion of society (the rich here) are giving up increasing amounts of their wealth, and why should they? Why should anyone have to give up what he has earned (other than the fact that we wish to punish those better off than ourselves)?

    It is not a sustainable model in the long run – if those wealthy leave, or lose their wealth: who is supporting everybody else? Surely bringing the poor out of poverty by their own means should be the goal of any government activity or taxation in this regard?

  31. Sunder Katwala

    @jonathanfryer you agree that IFS proves bottom 20% most significant gainers of tax and benefit changes since 1997? http://bit.ly/aBmILo

  32. Craig Montgomery

    @EpsomSean, @Selkie needs to work on her shorthand. Explicitly income inequality reduced through e.g. tax and min wage http://bit.ly/aBmILo

  33. Duncan Hothersall

    Labour's finest achievement, confirmed by the IFS – real redistribution of wealth http://bit.ly/9FZeC0 #ge2010 #ge10 #ukelection

  34. Duncan Hothersall

    Labour's finest achievement – redistribution of wealth, according to the IFS: http://bit.ly/9FZeC0 @SarahPortsmth @purpleline @GetLabourOut

  35. Mary Newsham

    Rebecca, the fact is that the rich ‘earn’ disproportionately. Their labour is rewarded excessively and their gains are inflated. Meanwhile, the labours of the poor are grossly undervalued, under renumerated and as such not likeley to ‘bring the poor out of poverty by their own means’.
    Labour certainly can take credit for significant work to address the concerns of the poorest but there is still lots to be done to close the inequality gap by dis-advataging the over advantaged.

  36. Here comes the future « Bad Conscience

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  37. Why Clegg is wrong to say poor must accept benefit cuts | Liberal Conspiracy

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