London has shocking levels of inequality
London is the most unequal region in the UK1. It is also one of the most unequal cities in the world1.  On average, the top 10 per cent richest Londoners are 273 times wealthier than the bottom 10 per cent1. The top 20 per cent of earners take home 60 per cent of the income2. The bottom poorest 10 per cent of households, on the other hand, are just getting by – at retirement age they have total wealth of under £3,5003. Economic inequality has risen sharply since the 1970s and it continues to rise. London, as the nation’s capital, should lead the way in reducing inequality and in creating a fairer society.

Inequality is harming all Londoners
Economic inequality, the gap between rich and poor, causes social problems. The Spirit Level shows that high levels of inequality are bad for everyone, both rich and poor4. So reducing inequality would benefit us all. To read more evidence of how inequality is harming download this pamphlet about inequality and the economy. 

What evidence is there that inequality causes social problems?
The Spirit Level, a book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, broke ground when it was published in 2009. Based on thirty years’ research and hundreds of academic papers, it demonstrated that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone – the well off as well as the poor. Reviewing academic studies and statistics, it found that almost every social and environmental problem – ill-health, low levels of trust, violence, mental illness, drugs – is more likely to occur in a less equal society. In this paper we draw heavily on The Spirit Level along with evidence from The Equality Trust, other think tanks and academics.

Most Londoners want politicians to reduce inequality  
Three-quarters of Londoners say they would support  government action to reduce the gap between high and low earners5. These results are consistent with successive national surveys, that show over three-quarters of Britons are concerned about inequality and over half feel it is the government’s responsibility to reduce inequality6. The Mayoral candidates should listen to what Londoners are saying, and put inequality at the heart of their manifestos.


References and footnotes

  1. Hills J, Brewer M, Jenkins S, Lister R, Lupton R, Machin S, Mills C, Momood T, Rees T and Riddell S (2010) An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK: Report 16 of the National Equality Panel, London: Government Equalities Office. [] [] []
  2. MacInnes T and Kenway P (2009) London’s Poverty Profile, London: New Policy Institute []
  3. Hills J (2010) in Closing the gap: inequality in London, Trust for London and London Voluntary Services Council []
  4. Wilkinson, R & Picket, K (2009) The Spirit Level []
  5. ippr (2011) Getting what we deserve?: Attitudes to pay, reward and desert []
  6. National Centre for Social Research (December 2010) British Social Attitudes Survey 27th Report: Chapter 1 – Do we still care about inequality? []

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  • Chloe Seymour