To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage

Duncan Exley argues the lessons we should draw from the British Social Attitudes Survey are to push for a living wage and retain the 50p top rate of tax.

 

Duncan Exley is the campaign director for One Society

It has been widely reported that the latest British Social Attitudes Survey found that although three quarters of the British public think the gap between rich and poor is too wide, only 35 per cent thought the Government should engage in redistribution.

This raises a question of how a progressive government could reduce the UK’s high, growing and unpopular levels of income inequality if the public distrusts tax-and-spend solutions.

There are two answers to that question.

The first is to recognise that although the public may not be enthusiastic about redistribution in general, they do favour redistribution away from the top one per cent. The majority of voters, including Conservatives, support the 50p top tax rate.

The popular support for the idea of reversing the rocketing pre-tax levels of top pay has also been recognised in statements by Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians.

But progressives should also recognise that inequality at the bottom end of the income scale can be tackled at the same time as seeking to reduce spending on benefits. This could be done by focusing on the huge cost to taxpayers and the wider economy of companies which pay their low-paid staff at such levels that substantial benefit subsidies are required to make ends meet.

The cost of in-work poverty is huge: The IFS estimates that sub-living wage pay costs taxpayers £6 billion each year. If we examine the wider taxpayer cost of in-work poverty, the picture is even bleaker: child poverty costs us £25 billion each year, even though 57 per cent of children in poverty have working parents.

Politicians have been relatively quiet about the living wage recently (perhaps distracted by the staggering increases in top-end pay). This is a shame – there are certainly many more companies who can afford to pay a living wage than presently do so (we could start by looking at those who can afford to pay their senior staff unusually large amounts).

While some private sector companies pass the costs of their low pay policies onto taxpayers, some public sector employers are also complicit. For example, there is an increasing trend towards local authorities outsourcing services.

It would be helpful if public sector employers published an assessment of the full taxpayer cost of major contracts, so that “taxpayer savings” can be scrutinised, to see if they are what they claim to be.

See also:

50p tax: Still a Tory obsession, still not that exceptionalAlex Hern, November 24th 2011

Inflation is worse for the worst offAlex Hern, November 6th 2011

Citizens UK: “The Big Society is flawed if people have to work two jobs”Peter Carrol on Neil Jameson, October 21st 2011

Only quarter of voters want to scrap 50p taxWill Straw, August 1st 2011

Tesco (profits: £3.8bn) under fire for failing to pay cleaners living wagePeter Carrol, June 21st 2011

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41 Responses to “To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage”

  1. Jonathan Barnes

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  2. Beverley Clack

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  3. Sara Bryson

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  4. Andrew Brennan

    RT @leftfootfwd: To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/oyTxEn6R

  5. Political Planet

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage: Duncan Exley argues the lessons… http://t.co/Sceo5Cbl

  6. Anonymous

    Here are some alternatives.

    1. Stop taking money from the poor. The major reason that anyone is working is poor is because government takes money from them. Lots of money.

    2. As an employer, you only employ someone if they make you money. They either reduce costs by more than the cost of employing them, or they produce benefits greater than the cost of employing them.

    You need to decide what to do about people who are unwilling to work, and to get to the level that they are productive.

    You can make people more productive if you get rid of employment taxes. They might produce the same, but the cost of employing them is lower, so the threshold is lower.

    However, it doesn’t affect much the real issue. You’ve run up 7 trillion of debts, and used fraudulent methods to hide it. Now those debts are due you are racking up taxes and cutting services, and screwing the public in the process.

  7. Richard Hardy

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  8. AprilMorlan

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage: It has been widely reported tha… http://t.co/DAavlR3P

  9. Green Party LGBTIQ

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/K68ogjOL

  10. Brian Tomkinson

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  11. Michael

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage l Duncan Exley l Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/wi5GSCat

  12. janet ewan

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage l Duncan Exley l Left Foot Forward – http://t.co/wi5GSCat

  13. Karen Buck MP

    And RT for those late up: To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  14. Finance-For-Life

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a … http://t.co/Hgv0f6aT

  15. Richard & Christine

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a … http://t.co/11zw7lB8

  16. How can we fight child poverty without hitting people's pockets? | Left Foot Forward

    […] Also: • To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage – Duncan Exley, December 8th […]

  17. FairPensions

    Also @one_society's blog on #Livingwages is worth taking a look at too: http://t.co/eOTQxqL7

  18. Rowland Paul Hill

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  19. NE CP Commission

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/Z7LgUKp6

  20. Noxi

    RT @leftfootfwd To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/pszWwk8O

  21. Jeni Parsons

    RT @leftfootfwd: To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/0D1MCjyP #otmp #occupylondon

  22. Kindjourneys

    Fantastic and eye-opening post, thank you. This does seem to be one area that a sensible government would have tackled ages ago. Raising the minimum wage to living wage levels, even just for larger and wealthier companies, would be a strikingly good plan. Both benevolent and helpful for the economy.

  23. Alan Cowan

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/cywgOZEL

  24. Newsbot9

    1. They’re spending 60%+ on housing alone. And housing benefit eclipses the tax they pay. Which is also the fault of capitalistic thinking.
    2. That’s right. And businesses in your world would have to pay a LOT more to employ people, since the state will no longer shoulder externalities.

    “You can make people more productive if you get rid of employment taxes”

    Absolutely, you’ll need to work your peons 12 hours to get the same profit as 8, given you’ll have to pay for your kids schooling. And £2k a month for your family’s health insurance. And….

    And you strongly support screwing the 99% at all opportunities, so…

  25. Fynn Ralph Hopper

    RT @leftfootfwd: To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/ztOVjOqy

  26. Prateek Buch

    The British don't like #inequality or redistribution. Fair pay policies can help to square that circle: http://t.co/FQZ91Xfn

  27. Bristling Badger

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/iad4JMwl |#WiUnion #Occupy #OWS #OO #Capitalists

  28. Paulo Querido

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/33YFJzl9 (a pobreza custa imenso em impostos)

  29. Paulo Querido

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/33YFJzl9

  30. Toivo Hartikainen

    And for more on the British Social Attitudes Survey, see http://t.co/2FKXd6nT http://t.co/1gn6V6s3 & http://t.co/50VEWm6A #BBCqt

  31. Jane Lowry

    RT @leftfootfwd: A living wage should be paid – taxpayers subsidise company profits via payments to support low wages. http://t.co/DGVF7Il3

  32. AdurVoluntaryAction

    And for more on the British Social Attitudes Survey, see http://t.co/2FKXd6nT http://t.co/1gn6V6s3 & http://t.co/50VEWm6A #BBCqt

  33. NE CP Commission

    To end inequality, we should pay a living wage, writes @One_Society’s Duncan Exley: http://t.co/R94fWiij via @leftfootfwd #ukpoverty

  34. Matthew Butcher

    And for more on the British Social Attitudes Survey, see http://t.co/2FKXd6nT http://t.co/1gn6V6s3 & http://t.co/50VEWm6A #BBCqt

  35. Tom Milburn

    To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, we should pay a living wage http://t.co/K68ogjOL

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  38. Inequality must be ended to prevent another financial crisis | Left Foot Forward

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  39. Cable fails to provide a stick or carrot in the fight against obscene pay | Left Foot Forward

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  40. Will consumers support Living Wage products? | Left Foot Forward

    […] • To end inequality without redistribution of wealth, introduce a living wage 8 Dec 2011 Living Wage campaigns tend to aim at businesses voluntarily adopting the standard, not increases in the statutory national minimum wage. […]

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