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On 18th July 2014 the final report was launched from a year long research project conducted by the London School of Economics for the London Borough of Newham into the impact of debt and the experience of life on a low income.
The rising cost of living, stagnant wages and welfare reform have placed many households under increased financial strain. This report, commissioned by the London Borough of Newham and written independently by Professor Anne Power, offers a powerful insight into the lives of some of the hardest pressed people in our country. This research highlights the struggle of both working and non-working households and explores the relationship between financial planning and skills and attitudes to credit and debt. The report also provides a valuable insight into the real impact of welfare reforms and helps to inform Newham’s ongoing work to strengthen resilience.
panel discussion was held with Polly Toynbee (Guardian), Vidhya Alakeson
(Resolution Foundation), Professor Anne Power (LSE) and Sir Robin Wales (Mayor
of Newham). The discussion considered the drivers and solutions to increasing
levels of personal debt and what can be done locally, nationally and within the
community to build economic resilience. The London Borough of Newham also
outlined its plans to respond to the analysis in the report.
Watch an interview with a Newham resident who took part in
Watch an interview with a Newham resident who took part in the research.
News Posted: 18 July 2014 [Back to the Top]
Housing Plus Think Tank 6: Supporting tenants into work
Housing Plus is about social landlords adopting a wider role in communities where they are based. The bedroom tax, benefit caps and other welfare reforms are having a dramatic impact on the lives of social housing tenants.
This workshop will explore why the problem of work now dominates, why public
opinion has become hostile to supporting the unemployed, why social landlords
need their tenants to work, and how they can achieve this.
By bringing together social landlords from all over the country who are
trying out new ideas or are anxious to uncover more good ideas, we hope to
uncover some solutions. Read the
Think Tank summary and programme here
and fill out the
registration form here.
News Posted: 03 July 2014 [Back to the Top]
Date: Monday 9 June 2014
The governor of the Bank of England recently warned that the overheated
housing market represents the "biggest risk" to the country’s long-term
BBC Home Affairs editor Mark Easton asks this expert panel, including LSE’s Paul Cheshire and Rachel Fisher of the National Housing Federation, why this country has failed to build enough affordable homes and looks at what can be done to solve our housing crisis.
The recording will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 11 June at 20.02 BST.
Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #wheretolive
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News Posted: 09 June 2014 [Back to the Top]
Book Launch, 27 March 2014
Increasing inequalities across some of the richest countries in the world
are not inevitable according to findings from an international research
project, which included a team of researchers from LSE.
Published in two volumes, launched at LSE on 27 March 2014, the research
shows that public policy plays a key role in shaping national inequalities
even within a highly globalized set of rich countries. Information on
inequality trends was gathered across 30 countries over the last 30 years.
Evidence of tax reforms across many of the countries reveals a trend towards lowering marginal tax rates for high earners, reductions in taxes on capital and capital income and removal or reductions in inheritance tax. This has been coupled with a reduction in the effectiveness of welfare states in ameliorating background inequality pressures. This is despite attitudinal data which reveals that people in these countries expressed a dislike for inequality in their societies and believed that governments should do more to redistribute income or increase spending on programmes to enhance opportunity.
The research also found that increases in inequalities have been accompanied by falling political participation with fewer people voting in political elections or actively engaging in politics, with much greater falls occurring among the least advantaged members of societies than the more privileged.
Dr Abigail McKnight, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion| (CASE) at LSE, said: “Concern has been growing about increases in concentration of income and wealth among a small group of people and the relationship between this group and an emerging privileged political elite. This new evidence on inequality trends, political participation and evolving public policy is a concern for all democracies. The danger is that disenfranchised groups are left open to being drawn in by emerging minority political parties expressing narrow populist views
“In the UK we found that, over the period, voter turnout in UK general elections fell. The gap between voters in the Professional social class and those in the Unskilled social class widened from 10 percentage points in 1992 to 25 percentage points in 2005 with a similar gap found in the 2010 general election.”
Within the group of countries studied there were examples of stable income inequality, including Belgium and Southern European countries. Even though the general trend was upwards, the timing of increases was variable and in some countries there were even periods where inequality fell.
The central and eastern European countries – transforming from Soviet-led economies to free market economies – tended to experience large increases in inequality but some navigated the path better than others. This partly reflects the diverse nature of this group of countries and the role of public policy. These countries appear to have polarised into a relatively high inequality grouping (including Latvia, Bulgaria and Lithuania) and a relatively low inequality grouping (including Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic).
The research also examined evidence on the impact of inequality on a wide variety of social, cultural and political factors. Some previous research has suggested that inequality is associated with a range of ‘social ills’. Here the evidence was more mixed and while some areas seem to show a clear relationship with inequality – for example, political engagement, attitudes, some types of crime and imprisonment – this was not evident in others, for example, marriage and divorce, economic stress, life expectancy, overall crime rates. Individuals’ outcomes were often found to be more strongly influenced by wider social change, such as family configuration, and technological advances, such as health and crime, and policy played an important role in weakening the link between inequality, opportunity and outcomes. What did emerge was that in a number of areas income inequality cast a shadow by increasing social gradients (the gaps between the least and most advantaged) in, for example, political engagement, health and social mobility.
The project ‘Growing Inequalities’ Impacts’| (GINI) was funded through the EU FP7 research programme (February 2010 – July 2013) . The London School of Economics was one of six core country partners (Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, UK) led by Wiemer Salverda at the University of Amsterdam. This study involved over 200 researchers and analysed data for 30 countries (all 27 EU countries except Malta and Cyprus plus Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea and the US) covering a period of over 30 years. The project produced country reports covering all 30 countries, around 100 discussion papers, policy papers, reviews and reports, all of which contributed to the two OUP volumes.
Changing Inequalities in Rich Countries: Analytical and Comparative Perspectives| Editors: Wiemer Salverda, Brian Nolan, Daniele Checchi, Ive Marx, Abigail McKnight, István György Tóth and Herman van de Werfhorst, Oxford University Press
Changing Inequalities and Societal Impacts in Rich Countries: Thirty
To mark the launch, Oxford University Press have agreed to offer a 30% discount on book sales at the event or ordered online (details here).