The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report ‘Is Britain Fairer?’ was released last week in pre-publication format. You can download the report here – https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/britain-fairer-2018
The report outlines how inequalities are continuing to blight British society; suggesting some groups within our society are being ‘forgotten or left behind’. Producing this report is a statutory obligation of the EHRC under the Equality Act 2006.
The report shows some educational improvements and increases in political participation for potentially marginalised groups. However, the report described the UK’s ongoing inequalities as a ‘bleak’ picture.
There is a large number of recommendations in the report including returning binding targets for reducing Child Poverty and sufficiently funding high quality mental health services.
Particular ire in the report is reserved for the reforms to welfare and tax since 2010 which the report says have disproportionately affected the poor. There is also a mention for increased homelessness that has been seen in the UK.
The EHRC’s report is important because it is a British public body arguing that we as a country are not making enough progress on reducing inequalities. These inequalities, according to research such as that by Pickett and Wilkinson, have a significant negative effect on people’s well-being and productivity.
Therefore, given the report argues that welfare and tax policy is worsening inequality, the effects of government policy over the last eight years are likely to be working against the general British public’s well-being.
Cambridge is the ‘most unequal city in the UK’, a country now described by a British public body as having a ‘bleak’ picture of inequality. Many aspects of the findings of the report, such as the increases in homelessness, can be visibly seen within Cambridge. Our city is significantly touched by the ongoing problems mentioned in the EHRC report.
For the well-being of the people and long-term economic prospects of Cambridge, and the UK more widely, reducing all facets of inequality must be a priority.
Currently, government policy is working against equality. This must change. Increased salience in the UK to the sustainable development goals’ target for reducing national inequality could help. The government should measure their success publicly against measures of inequality such as this as much as they do with GDP and purely economic measures.