Now that coalition reforms are in place, we're starting to see the true impact of government policy - and inequality is on the rise.
Now that coalition reforms are in place we’re starting to see the true impact of government policy – and inequality is on the rise
Despite many claiming that Britain is a more unequal society under the coalition than under previous governments, inequality had (until today) actually been reduced since 2010.
Believe it or not, the incomes of the better off suffered the biggest hit in the early years of the downturn, while the poorest were sheltered to some extent by their reliance upon tax credits and/or benefits.
And yet as we previously predicted (with a bit of help from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)), inequality is once again on the rise according to new figures.
Until recently, coalition claims of reducing inequality (George Osborne boasted of the fact earlier this year) were in fact correct. As George Eaton notes in the New Statesman, “the Gini coefficient for disposable income in 2011-12 (the most recent figure then available) was 32.3 per cent, the lowest level since 1986”.
But then this was largely because many coalition welfare reforms only became policy fairly recently:
The Bedroom Tax – introduced in April 2013
Universal Credit – introduced in April 2014 (ongoing)
The Benefit Cap – introduced in April 2013
Changes to child tax credits – introduced in April 2012
Changes to Working Tax Credits – introduced in April 2012
As the IFS put it last year, much of the pain for lower-income groups was “occurring now or is still to come because these groups are the most affected by cuts to benefits and tax credits”.
As such, it’s only now that we’re seeing the true impact of coalition policy. And inequality is on the march, according to the figures:
So in sum, it was the welfare system put in place by the last Labour government that sheltered the poor from the full brunt of the recession in the initial years of this government. Rather than George Osborne boasting about reduced inequality, it should actually have been Gordon Brown and Tony Blair doing so.
Now that coalition reforms are finally in place, we’re starting to see the true impact of government policy – and inequality is on the rise.
Follow James Bloodworth on Twitter
As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.
We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.
14 Responses to “Inequality is on the rise. And it really is the coalition’s fault”
Is this the same treborc now sunning himeself on Pefkos, (Rhodes), Greece at taxpayers expense – just asking?
PLEASE GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE. Labour’s legacy on welfare includes being the party of full civil rights for disabled people, the party of independent living, the Disability Equality Duty, the Human Rights Act and the party which signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In that spirit, it is true that Labour began the closure of the anachronistic and wasteful state-subsidised sheltered factories run by Remploy.
It is also true (unfortunately) that in 2006, David (now Lord / Baron) Freud was appointed by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to provide a nominally independent review of the British ‘welfare to work’ system.
HOWEVER, REMEMBER, FREUD DID NOT JOIN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY UNTIL 2009.
Although Freud’s recommendations on single parents were adopted, when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007 other restructuring measures that involved paying private contractors thousands of pounds for processing long term unemployed people WERE REJECTED.
He was later rehired as an adviser to the government when James Purnell was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2008. Freud was involved in producing a white paper, published in December 2008, which would require most people receiving benefits either to participate in some form of employment or prepare formally to find paid employment later.
Freud was only later appointed Minister for welfare reform in 2010 by the current government – NOT by Labour. BY THIS TIME HE HAD ALSO JOINED THE TORIES. He was responsible for designing the Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment (2013) and hired ATOS.
Labour may be engaged in a process of disinheriting all this history, but it was actually brought in by a Tory administration – NOT LABOUR. T
his distancing now by Labour is no bad thing surely.
Labour should never have agreed to the austerity plans nor the welfare cap.
If you do not know what the economic conditions will be post GE2015 how can you agree a cap?
Why are we so scared to make clear our belief in a fair society – living wage, decent allowances etc.
I thought New Labour was gone?
The Gini coefficient is a gross oversimplification and should not be relied on to provide a true picture of inequality. In fact, inequality has been on the rise in the UK since the early 80’s, as Picketty eloquently illustrates in Capital.
They are. This is Newer Labour.