Peak inequality: which way down?

MFL activist Tom McDonough writes: “Blade runner society” awaits if inequality increases

Nearly 100 Londoners heard inequality guru and Oxford Geography professor Danny Dorling tell My Fair London's October meeting that Britain’s extreme level of income inequality had peaked. Inequality would have to come down unless we were willing to become a “blade runner society”. 

Claiming that history shows income inequality is cyclical, a cautiously optimistic Dorling told London inequality activists that the gap between rich and poor in Britain had last peaked in 1913 and had reached a new upper limit in 2018. “Over the long cycle of history inequality goes up and down and all inequalities eventually come down,” he said, adding that they could either fall fast, as in the case of Japan and Germany, or slowly, as with Holland.

Pointing out that the events accompanying the starts of declines in inequality were not always pleasant, Dorling warned that this new shift towards greater equality may be accompanied by painful social and economic upheavals, with the fallout from Brexit being chief among them. 

Income equality increased in Britain from the start of World War One until the late 1970s, when we embarked on a 40 year political and economic experiment that made us what we are today: the most unequal country in Europe and the second most unequal in the rich world, he told the audience. Such abnormally large gaps in remuneration and status between the better and worse off members of our country had resulted in a raft of problems that people could no longer accept.

Illustrating his point, Dorling pointed out that in 2014 the UK infant mortality rate rose and our average life expectancy fell, making us the only country in Europe to experience regression in these key health indicators. “Our education system is the most divided in Europe. Our children are segregated according to an “apartheid” system. It’s not unfair to describe it like that,” he added.

Arguing that we can no longer tolerate the dehumanizing impact of inequality on ourselves and our fellow citizens, he said that grass roots pressure from ordinary people and groups such as MFL would result in a slow, possibly painful, shift towards the more reasonable levels of inequality seen in societies like Finland or Holland. 

“Back in the 1930s, twenty years after the previous peak, there was a change in the moral sentiment; it was thought to be wrong to be so greedy when there was so much trouble in the world. The shame is beginning to happen again and we are potentially at that change moral sentiment now.”

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A history of council housing

London’s housing crisis is a major concern for My Fair London. Below, MFL activist Joan Grant offers an extended review of John Boughton’s new book, Municipal Dreams: the rise and fall of council housing, (Verso, London, 2018)

John Boughton’s book starts by taking us back to a lost world - a world in which a local authority, the London County Council was a major housebuilder. The LCC predated the GLC and was in existence from 1889 to 1965. Its Architecture Department was responsible for many council housing schemes. By the early 1950s it had 1500 staff of whom 350 were architects. In the 1950s, there was conflict between the Swedish Humanists and the Corbusier Brutalists. Brutalism (synonymous with the use of concrete) came to be seen as a way to cheaply build the new welfare state: homes, schools, hospitals and universities from the 60s onwards.

The story of Council housing is a story of a constant struggle between generosity and parsimony in terms of spending on social housing. For 80 years there has been a debate about who council housing is for. Is it for the broad mass of the working population (Labour) or is it only for those who can do no better, with private housing rented or owned always preferable (Conservative).

By the turn of the 20th century, the government accepted that it might have to fund some social housing. The Boundary Estate is the first council estate in London. But there had already been other council housing built in Liverpool. For a couple of years from 1919 when the government pledged to build homes fit for heroes a reasonable amount of money was spent on social housing. In 1921, austerity kicked in and the quality of public homes built began to decline.

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Inequality and education

MFL activist Tom McDonough reports on our most recent public meeting. Professor Diane Reay spoke to My Fair London on 10th May 2018.

Mission impossible: educating our way out of inequality

Professor Diane Reay explains how England’s education system merely reflects rather than remedies inequality and how it has always failed the working-class.

It’s the rule that matters, not the exception

It would have been easy for someone with Professor Diane Reay’s life-trajectory to hold herself up as a shining example of what can be achieved in an unequal, meritocratic society provided one is bright, aspirational and hard-working. Had Diane adopted such a stance, her tale could have been added to the many clichéd rags-to-riches stories told and re-told by advocates of the American dream and its international equivalents.

Instead, Diane attributes her rise from free-school-meals child to Cambridge professor to family circumstances rather than individual brilliance or aspiration. What makes her story all the more refreshing is her assertion that her parents nurtured her abilities and confidence not by aping middle-class attitudes or behaviours but by fostering within her a pride and belief in working-class values and political perspectives. Shored up by familial support and her strong sense of class identity, Diane passed her grammar school entrance exam and went on to become a successful academic. That her success was achieved within an educational system that has failed most of her class brethren since its inception is a sad fact that has inspired Diane to commit her energies to pressing for educational reform. In her presentation to an audience of My Fair London (MFL) members at the UCLH Education Centre on May 10th, Diane highlighted some of the key points outlined in her book ‘Miseducation – Inequality, education and the working classes.’ Drawing on 500 interviews, the book explains how the education system in England not only fails our working-class children but also makes many of them feel worthless and distressed.

“Education policy is nominally about raising working-class achievement, but its practices achieve the opposite, ensuring that educational failure remains firmly located within the working-classes. Regardless of what individual working-class boys and girls achieve, the collective patterns of working-class trajectories remain sharply different from those of the upper and middle classes, despite 150 years of universal state schooling,” she said.

From flying squirrel to marmots

Our status-conscious and competitive society, argued Diane, is now mirrored in our schools, including the earliest years of our nursery and primary schools. Pupils as young as two are placed in sets or ability-groups, writing themselves off as losers if they are placed at the bottom. In some cases, the sense of hierarchy is heightened by the names used to describe the sets. One researcher told Diane about a primary school that named its sets, from top to bottom, as flying squirrels, tree squirrels, ground squirrels and marmots, the latter living under the ground.

A child named Jason explained to Diane’s research team how the setting system impacts on children like himself, saying: “Some kids they just can’t do it, like they find the work too hard or they can’t concentrate because there is too much going on for them. Then they are put like as rubbish learners and put in the bottom set, and no one cares about them even though they are the ones who need the most help. They should be getting the most help.”

Setting also serves to reinforce class divisions as children end up in sets with other children from their social class. Consequently, rather than remedying the inequalities that exist in English society, our schools merely reflect them, says Diane.

The sharp elbowed middle class

The segregation is worsened further both by the attitudes of sharp elbowed middle-class parents and the measures they take to ensure their children have a competitive edge in exams. The most obvious strategy involves using their financial muscle. Diane’s research found that middle class parents sometimes spend more in a week on private tuition for their children than working class parents have to live on. Meanwhile, children whose parents send them to private primary schools have more than twice as much spent on their early schooling than children whose parents send them to state primary schools. The discrepancy at secondary school level is even greater.

Other strategies include demanding that primary schools prepare their children for exams, campaigning for setting to be introduced, buying properties in areas with high-achieving schools and, if this doesn’t work, lying about their address.

But financial investment is only one and not necessarily the most important advantage enjoyed by better off children. Their parents’ belief in the cultural superiority of their social class and the innate brightness of their children serve to instil confidence in middle class pupils. One study cited by Diane found that 250 sets of white middle-class parents made 254 references to their children being ‘bright’ during their interviews with researchers.


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New narratives for a new politics

MFL activist Andrew Robert’s reviews George Monbiot’s book ‘Out of the Wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis’ (published last year) and asks whether, as fairness campaigners, we need to sharpen the way we tell the story of inequality.

In his book ‘Out of the Wreckage’ (published last autumn) George Monbiot presents the political landscape as he sees it. Political narratives drive change, he thinks, and we are now somewhere toward the end of the neoliberalist narrative, which has held sway since it vanquished the previous dominant narrative, Keynesianism. Monbiot asks what’s next?

In answering that question, Monbiot, building on an analysis of political narratives, takes a look at the structure of the neoliberal and Keynesian narratives. He suggests they are mirror images of each other. Both involve a hero defeating a monster; in Keynesianism the state saves us from an economic elite; in neoliberalism the entrepreneur in a free market saves us from the totalitarian horrors of collectivism.

Monbiot posits that the reason the discredited neoliberal narrative has not been finally disposed of is that no compelling replacement has been found. He gives a number of reasons why it’s not possible to simply go back to Keynesianism: political stories have to change, the issues of the 1970s have not gone away; Keynesian growth will inevitably damage the environment.

In searching for an alternative Monbiot points to a growing body of research suggesting that altruism is one of humanity’s unique traits. We show compassion for people we have never met. This, claims Monbiot, is in sharp contrast to the picture presented in the neoliberal narrative, of humanity as inherently only interested in looking after number one.

Monbiot has a number of explanations for our tendency to agree with this false picture of inherent selfishness. Our current leaders often got where they were through sharp elbows – we generalise from them. We are programmed to look out for danger; we are biased to notice bad things (like the Charlie Hebdo killings) more than the good (people taking to the streets in solidarity). And then there are powerful interests who are keen to stress the selfishness narrative.

How to make the most of this altruism? The answer, he thinks, is to empower communities. This can be done in two ways: firstly, creating a participatory culture. One project he cites is Todmorden, where a community garden project has expanded into a number of different projects and these, taken together, have turned the fortunes of the town around. The second is an emphasis on the idea of the commons, that is resources managed by the community. Government could act to recreate the commons by charging a land value tax, with some of the proceeds going to local communities. A citizens’ wealth fund could give a basic income. There could be a Community Right to Buy.

Monbiot is a staunch campaigner for greater economic equality, and his idea of empowering communities could clearly be one mechanism for narrowing inequality, for example through provision of a basic income, or by giving communities much more direct ability to collectively meet housing needs. His analysis perhaps also challenges campaigning groups like My Fair London to reflect harder on whether the story we tell - of the desperate need to reduce inequality - is as fresh, positive and compelling as it needs to be in order to dislodge the neoliberal narrative in people's minds.

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The Guardian's Larry Elliot talks to My Fair London

Misguided faith: The Guardian's economics editor slams neoclassical economic orthodoxy

My Fair London activist Tom McDonough writes:

Our leaders’ unquestioning faith in neoclassical economics is in dire need of a shake-up, according to the Guardian economics editor Larry Elliot.

Speaking last week to an audience of just under 100 MFL members at the UCLH Education Centre, Elliot claimed that despite its status as an ideologically bullet-proof model, neoclassical economics is in fact not fit for purpose, being unable to avert or even predict economic recessions.

This free market system, made famous in Britain by Margaret Thatcher and endorsed by all British political leaders since, crashed spectacularly in 2008 and is on course to suffer the same fate again, says Elliot. Add to this the model’s failure to factor in its impact on the natural world, its reliance on the provision of credit and its heavy weighting in favour of certain groups and we have a defunct and failing system.

Yet, argues Elliot, the neoclassical economic model has morphed into an ideology whose tenets are seen as so self-evidently correct that anyone who challenges them is considered a heretic or crackpot. Self-regulating markets, privatisation, the shrinkage of the state, free competition, the centrality of financial markets and huge income and wealth inequality are all seen as natural, beneficial and beyond reproach.

Heretics needed

The references to faith, ideology and heresy in Elliot’s articles and talks on this topic are reflective of his contention that neoclassical economics has become as dogmatic and as removed from ordinary people as a medieval church.

“It’s become lost in its mathematical thickets and its processes have been mystified. It’s similar to the way the medieval church used Latin to talk in its own language and mystify the whole process,” he said.

In fact, Elliot, together with a group of like-minded economists and students, has likened the call for fundamental economic change to Martin Luther’s instigation of the Reformation of the Catholic church in the 16th century.

Led by economist Steve Keen, this group of economic reformers, Elliot among them, delivered a 33-point call for change to the London School of Economics in December last year. With Keen dressed as monk and carrying a giant inflatable hammer, the stunt was designed to be a humorous re-enactment of Luther’s alleged nailing of his 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517. The activists targeted a leading university to highlight the need for change not just in economic policy but also in economic thinking, research and teaching.

The 33 points read like a list of the shortcomings of neoclassical economics, with the areas covered ranging from the teaching of economics to the nature of decision making and the role of institutions in markets. Among the flaws highlighted are free markets’ tendency towards inequality. Point 17 acknowledges that people with the same abilities, preferences and talents do not end up with equal levels of wealth owing to differences in luck and circumstances. Meanwhile, point 18 states that unequal societies fare worse across a range of social indicators.

However, while Elliot believes that strong unions, a decent welfare state and lower levels of inequality are all crucial ingredients for a more successful economy, he is no far left egalitarian.

“People are not equal and you can only lean against the wind to a certain extent. In the 1970s the richest used to earn ten times more than the poorest; now the ratio is something like 150 to 1, which is dangerous. It should go back to what it was like in the 70s,” he said.

Where to from here?

If one reason why the badly needed backlash against the economic status quo has not happened is the neoclassical economists’ intellectual and ideological monopoly, a second, argued Elliot, is that it just hasn’t suited the country’s elite to reform it. By contrast, when Keynesian economics faltered in the mid-1970s, after having fostered a golden era of growth and falling inequality, the elite leaped at the chance to restructure the system.

A third reason would seem to be the lack of any viable, clearly defined alternative. The 33 theses do not point to one and while Corbyn’s Labour is seeking to neutralise the worst excesses of current system, it does not set out a vision for an alternative economic model.

Meanwhile, anger levels among the dispossessed are rising as evidenced by the Brexit vote in Britain and the election of Trump in the US. Change is imperative, and the 33 theses are make a decent point of departure, but bold, clearly defined alternatives are still lacking.

Larry Elliot speaking at My Fair London

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Inequality and the economy - building a fairer London

We are pleased to publish our new pamphlet, on inequality and the economy. In a few pages we try to summarise just how our society, and London, became so unequal over the last forty years. We also set out some of the changes we think are needed to help make our city and our economy fairer for everyone.

We need London (and the UK) to change course, towards a fairer future, where we can all share in the wealth, culture and opportunities that our city can offer. Inequality tears at our social fabric and harms us all, but to change direction we need to change the way our economy is run, and in whose interests. We hope this pamphlet helps make those arguments. 

If you like it please share with friends, family, colleagues.  If you can help us produce better leaflets, or simply have ideas about how we can make London a fairer city, get involved. Follow the link below to sign up as a supporter. You'll get emails from us about meetings, demonstrations, and collaborative projects we are working on.


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Planning for a fairer London - My Fair London's response to the Mayor's new draft London Plan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan published his draft London Plan for three months consultation in December 2017. The document was over 500 pages long. The London Plan sets strategic planning policy for London and is one of the areas where the Mayor of London has some real powers. When it's finally adopted, after various stages of consultation, the London Plan sets the framework against which all applications for planning permission are decided. That means either the Mayor or the London boroughs can use their powers to refuse planning permission for developments that don't comply with what's in the plan. Over time therefore the London Plan can have a real influence on the behaviour of property developers, on the decisions of London boroughs, on the value of land and property in London, and on what gets built in our city and where. 

The draft plan contains lots of important but quite technical planning policies. For My Fair London we focussed our comments on Chapter One, Planning London's Future, along with a few comments on the housing and regeneration sections. We welcomed the Mayor's strong overall commitment to making London a fairer and more equitable city, indeed this is at the heart of the first policy statement in the document.

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Response to the Mayor's Housing Strategy

London's Housing Crisis - inequality is at its heart

In our response to Mayor Sadiq Khan's draft housing strategy we suggest that he needs to do more to deal with the links between inequality and London's housing crisis. London's high levels of economic inequality exacerbate our housing problems, and our failing housing market itself makes inequality worse. While his powers are limited, we think the Mayor should use all the resources he does have to make sure everything he does to tackle the housing crisis also works to narrow the gap between rich and poor in our city.

Ever increasing house prices have made many lucky property owners rich, and left everyone else further and further behind. London's house prices increased by 518% between 1996 and 2016. During the same period the average Londoner's wages increased by just 47%. Any policies that rely on the false promise of ever rising property prices only make the situation worse and continue to increase the gaps between haves and have nots. The gulf between rich and poor is too wide, it causes immense harm to the social fabric of our city and housing is a key part of our inequality problem.

Our response to the Mayor notes that there is good evidence that London's housing crisis is underpinned not so much by an absolute shortage of homes, as by the fact that a market dominated approach to housing fails fairly to share out the space we have. There are more bedrooms in London today than there ever have been, and more than ever before are empty. They are spare rooms in the homes of wealthier Londoners, or they are the empty second or third homes of the rich and overseas investors. The homes of the top third of Londoners have been getting bigger and bigger over the last 30 years. When some people take more, others get less, or none at all.

My Fair London has published a short pamphlet that analyses the causes of London's housing problems and the disastrous consequences of seeing housing purely as an investment or a commodity. Everyone recognises that London's housing market is broken. It completely fails both to distribute the housing we have and to target investment into the more affordable housing that we need. 

Our pamphlet 'Housing and Inequality in London' is available here and the text of our full response to the draft housing strategy is below.



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Better health for all Londoners: responding to the Mayor's strategy

We have submitted our formal response to the Mayor of London’s consultation on his draft health inequalities strategy. Several MFL activists have been reading through the Mayor’s strategy over the last few weeks and sharing our ideas.

In our response we welcome Sadiq Khan’s opening statement that, “cities that are more equal are happier, safer, and healthier.”  However we go on to say that the strategy perhaps somewhat misses its mark. Economic inequalities are one of main factors that drive health inequalities, and while the strategy makes this connection we think it could go much further and set out a stronger call for action to make London a fairer city.

In many ways health inequalities are the most direct measure of wider social and economic inequalities. There is a huge body of knowledge that describes how the social determinants of health create health inequalities (things such as differential pay rates, the steepness of status hierarchies, poor working conditions, poor housing, degree of control, the distribution of social goods, poverty). This evidence challenges simple ‘lifestyle’ explanations: that poor diet or lack of exercise are merely the lack of will power or good sense in the individuals affected. This view dominates the media and much public health advice. In public health jargon this is the difference between focussing on the proximate (near) and distal (underlying) causes of health inequalities.

Mind the gap

The draft strategy falls somewhere between these two perspectives. It acknowledges how underlying circumstances create the environments in which people live their lives, and which set the context within which individual behaviours take place, but many of the actions it proposes default to individualising, personal level things, dealing more with the symptoms and not the causes.  We believe the Mayor’s strategy would be stronger and make more difference to the lives of all Londoners if it engaged more fully with the deep, structural social determinants of health. We observe that the size of the gap between rich people and poor people in London is one of the primary causes of health inequalities, it makes us all less healthy.  So while we strongly support actions aimed at helping people living in poverty (and the Mayor makes some important commitments for action on poverty), we also need strong actions that reduce the gap between rich and poor, and what drives and sustains that gap is the increasing wealth of the rich. We need to narrow the equity gap and this must mean action to reduce the wealth of the rich.

We also shared Michael Marmot’s two parallel lists of ‘top tips for a healthy life’, and suggested that from a fairness perspective the Mayor should devote most of his efforts to tackling the kinds of issues in list number two, things that are hard to change by force of will alone or individual action.

List no 1 - ten top tips for a heathy life

1. Don’t smoke. If you can, stop. If you can’t, cut down
2. Follow a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
3. Keep Physically active
4. Manage stress by, for example, talking things through and making time to relax
5. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation
6. Cover up in the sun, and protect children from sunburn
7. Practise safer sex
8. Take up cancer-screening opportunities
9. Be safe on the roads: follow the Highway Code
10. Learn the First Aid ABC, airways, breathing, circulation
List no 2 - ten top tips for a healthy life
1. Don’t be poor.  If you can, stop. If you can’t, try not to be poor for too long
2. Don’t live in a deprived area. If you do, move
3. Don’t be disabled or have a disabled child
4. Don’t work in a stressful, low-paid manual job
5. Don’t live in damp, low quality housing or be homeless
6. Be able to afford to pay for social activities and annual holidays
7. Don’t be a lone parent
8. Claim all benefits to which you are entitled
9. Be able to afford to own a car
10. Use education to improve your socio-economic position

My Fair London's full response to the Mayor's Health Inequalities strategy consultation is available here.


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The Mayor's 'Good Work' standard must include fair pay and tax transparency

Several My Fair London activists worked together over the summer to respond to the Mayor's call for evidence on a proposed 'Good Work' standard for London employers. Drawing on evidence that narrower gaps between high and low paid staff are good for staff motivation, and that greater pay equity is good for productivity and innovation, we suggested that any employer being commended by the Mayor as a good London employer should as a minimum be transparent on what is paid to all its employees and have a relatively narrow gap between the highest and lowest paid workers.

In our 2016 manifesto to the Mayor we called for him to work towards a maximum ten to one ratio between highest to lowest paid as a target to aim for for London. We copy below our response to the Mayor.

The consultation is still open and you can send in ideas and comments until 18 September. Visit for more information.

My Fair London Response to Call for Evidence on the Mayor of London’s Good Work Standards


We are pleased to respond to the Mayor of London’s ‘Good Work Standards’ consultation paper. We have broken down our response into two sections; a general commentary on the main content followed by specific answers to questions posed in the paper. We would be delighted to meet with members of the Mayor’s team to discuss our response more fully or to contribute in whatever way we can to help him develop this programme. The Mayor’s commitment to “exemplary standards in pay and employment rights for workers” is very welcome. Overall we welcome the proposal for a ‘Good Work’ standard for London. In order to become a real beacon of good employment practices and change business practice across London the Good Work standard will need ongoing political support, and sustained investment.

General Comments

Overall we believe that the paper sets out an attractive and compelling vision of what a new compact for work might look like.  We strongly support efforts to persuade London businesses to become better employers. There is good evidence that extreme disparities in pay rates within companies are harmful in a variety of ways. High levels of economic inequality, and unjustifiably large rewards at the top of the income distribution are unfair, unnecessary and harmful to society in general and to businesses individually.  We would argue that any company that is rewarded with recognition as an ‘exemplary’ employer could not, by definition have wide pay ratios between its highest and lowest paid employees.

We believe that the planned Good Work Standards could be strengthened in the following ways: 

  • Page 2: There is mention of discrimination and disadvantage and the need to address a number of ways in which unfairness manifests itself. However wealth and income inequality is not explicitly mentioned and we believe that the case could be strengthened by making more explicit reference to the proven links between high levels of economic inequality and poor health, social and economic outcomes. (
  • Page 3: In terms of the goals of a Good Work Standard, in addition to the London Living Wage, excellent working conditions and fair treatment (including appropriate use of zero hours contracts), we suggest that explicit mention should be made of the need for issues such as tax avoidance (ie how good companies pay their fair share), publication of pay rates, pay differentials and or wage ratios, and transparent management of executive remuneration to be included as accreditation criteria for the best employers. Also in the list of ‘development goals’ we believe that contractual arrangements should be explicitly addressed as a separate bullet point in order to ensure that employees are provided with appropriate levels of employment security and certainty.

(On the remuneration/reward issues see the joint High Pay Centre/CIPD response to Government from February 2017

  • Page 4: To this end we would suggest that the figure 1 model be amended to include two further bullets: ‘secure employment contracts’ and ‘published pay ratios’, in addition to the London Living Wage and Excellent Working Conditions bullets. We would also suggest that model could be broadened. Good Work results when the following conditions underpin it:
    • Good job design – jobs that provide meaningful and fulfilling employment opportunities
    • Engaged employees – employees who feel a sense of commitment and dedication towards the organization, their job and their colleagues
    • Enlightened leadership and management – who understand that engaged employees are a critical factor in economic and business success and who demonstrate the appropriate leadership styles and behaviors
    • An enabling culture – an organizational environment that encourages and stimulates everyone to give of their best

Further we would suggest that extremely high pay inequality in any company is incompatible with having ‘excellent working conditions’. Unfairness in terms of excessive rewards at the top will undermine other efforts to improve productivity, motivation and morale.

  • We don't know whether the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), IPA -Involve or the Engage for Success (E4S) movement are involved in the consultation process but we recommend that their views and expertise is sought in this regard. We can effect introductions if necessary.
  • There is no reference to the way in which technology will impact on job design and work – perhaps the Mayor of London could instigate a working group to study the effects of changes in technology in different sectors and identify what support is required in order to balance employment, business needs and social consequences.

 Answers to Specific Questions

 Q1: we would add goals regarding leadership / management quality and employee engagement measures. Also the negative links between bonus/ financial reward based business cultures and innovation and productivity. (See for example Kahneman, D., ‘Thinking Fast and Slow”, 2011 for exploration of the negative impacts of simplistic rewards on human behaviour and team functioning.)

Q2: public exposure / reputational risk for those organizations that do not meet the Good Work Standards, economic risk through failure to secure contracts. A ‘good work’ standard alone will have little impact on the major structural social and economic factors that have undermined social mobility – increased economic inequality being the most powerful factor.

Q3: Fair treatment would include transparency on pay rates within an organization, with pay rates published and pay ratios calculated and reported.

Q4: zero hours and short-term contracts, highly geared remuneration packages (ie low base pay, high variable pay by results), excessive, unjustified rewards for senior managers.

Q5: Professor Bruce Raynton’s research for the Engage for Success movement provides an excellent business case

Q6: recommend consulting CIPD or E4S for further evidence

Q7: short term financial targets, intransigent mind sets, lack of awareness of business benefits / risks, lack of knowledge and support about how to design and implement (particularly around management capability), for SMEs lack of capacity to commit and monitor against standards that are too onerous.

Q8: pay transparency, adoption of living wage, publication of pay ratios, adoption of engaging management practices, focusing on positive work cultures. It maybe difficult to create a single standard that all businesses, large and small, can meet.

Q9: demonstrate business case and competitive advantage that will result, greater access to labour market / talent ie ability to recruit the best people, potential financial ROI, raise the Standard’s profile, summarise the personal and wider negative social and economic costs of inequality (See for example ‘The enemy between us: The psychological and social costs of inequality’, European Journal of Social Psychology,  2017 (

Q10: public awards, ‘Kite mark’, London league tables, celebrate the best employers .

Q11: meeting GWS standards as criteria for public sector tenders, persuade other large public sector employers to adopt (NHS, education etc)

Q12: My Fair London would welcome the opportunity to participate in judging leading employers, and in celebrating the achievements of those employers creating fairer employment practices. We hope that this scheme develops into a widely recognized and sought after ‘fairness’ kite mark, similar to some of the most successful environment quality standards (FSC for example).




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