Recent research published by The Guardian shows that the gulf between richest and poorest in the UK continues to grow.
The recession has left the poorest members of our society digging deep into their pockets for spare change to feed the electricity meter. At the same time, the richest 20% of the population is wondering ‘Recession, what recession?’, as they save an average of £18,680 a year. To put it into context, this is more than the full income of many of the poorest households. This is what they are left with after living comfortably, pay bills, taxes, treats.
The poorest amongst us often live in rented or insecure accommodation, clustered in areas that provide access to inadequate or underperforming schools for their children. It’s a kind of catchment area for a tougher version of life, starting with schools that may instil lower aspirations, leading to educational under-attainment, and graduating to a lifetime of temporary or zero-hour contracts in badly paid jobs, offering a lack of fulfilment and limited progression along the way.
The richest will make full use of all the tricks up their sleeves to set their children on the path to a better future: private tuition, piano or tennis lessons, ski trips abroad, these can really strengthen your child’s confidence in themselves, so they sail through uni interviews. They are in a position to choose the sort of life they want to build for themselves, rather than living the life that’s been thrust upon them by circumstances. And while they do so, they are becoming even richer as their properties increase in value in what is one of the most toxic housing markets in Europe. One where the concept of home has been eroded by the notion of bricks and mortar as an investment.
Where do we go next? What can we do, other than casting our votes, campaigning, taking a stand? We need more input from educational, health, housing leaders and charities to create a coordinated approach that can break vicious circles. We want to give everyone a fair chance of a good life. Until then, the richest 1% will continue to own as much as the poorest 55%.