Even a right-wing think tank fears Britain is slipping back to Victorian levels of inequality under the Tories

'The most disadvantaged in Britain are no better off than 15 years ago'

Poverty and inequality have worsened so much under the Tories, that even a right-wing think tank fears that Britain is slipping back to the social divides of the Victorian era, ‘marked by a widening gulf between mainstream society and a depressed and poverty-stricken underclass’.

A scathing report by The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), which counts among its co-founders former Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, argues that the most disadvantaged in Britain are no better off than 15 years ago and that the ‘gap between the so-called “haves” and “have nots” has blown wide open’.

The CSJ’s report comes after a recent report from the Resolution Foundation which found that fifteen years of economic stagnation have left the typical UK household £8,300 poorer than peers in countries like France and Germany.

The report from the CSJ, called the ‘Two Nations: The State of Poverty in the UK’, also highlighted the impact of Covid lockdowns, particularly on the mental health of children, with one in five children assessed as having a clinically recognisable mental health problem, up from one in nine, 20 years ago.

The CSJ states: “If trends continue, the report argues that by 2030 over one in four 5 – 15-year-olds – which may be as many as 2.3 million children – could have a mental disorder. There are likely to be 108 per cent more boys with mental health disorders by 2030 than there would have been if the lockdown had not happened. We should worry about the problems of the next generation.”

Lord King, the former Governor of the Bank of England, who is among the Commissioners of the report, said that support for families was vital. He said: “Money is not the only solution to the problem of deprivation. One glimmer of light is the institution of the family – rather than government – as a place of nurture, support, and fulfilment. No family is perfect, and families come in all different shapes and sizes. But if we are able to do more to support the family, then we can prevent the creation of an “unhappy generation”.”

Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the Centre for Social Justice, said: “This report makes for deeply uncomfortable reading. Lockdown policy poured petrol on the fire that had already been there in the most disadvantaged people’s lives, and so far no one has offered a plan to match the scale of the issues.

“What this report shows is that we need far more than discussions on finance redistribution, but a strategy to go after the root causes of poverty – education, work, debt, addiction and family.”

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