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Labour's Legacy: UK Social Policy and The Distribution of Economic Outcomes in 2010
Venue: Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
Opinions are very divided over the major, radical, and expensive social policy agenda pursued by the Labour government between 1997 and 2010, and the nature of the legacy Labour left for the Coalition.This event will provide robust and authoritative evidence to inform this debate by launching two major new reports:
Professors Ruth Lupton and John Hills will present key findings, and there will be responses from commentators James Kempton (Centre Forum), Matt Oakley (Policy Exchange) and Nick Pearce (IPPR), followed by an audience discussion. Free copies of the reports will be available and we will be demonstrating a new data exploration tool to enable anyone to interrogate the underlying evidence.
The work is part of the Social Policy in a Cold Climate research programme, which is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Nuffield Foundation and Trust for London. The work continues, and a further analysis of what has happened under the Coalition will be published in early 2015. For more details of the programme, please click here or contact Ruth Lupton on firstname.lastname@example.org. All the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of the funders.
The event will be followed by a buffet lunch and an opportunity to explore some of the data using the new website data exploration tools.
Podcast video and audio recordings of the event will be available
News Posted: 14 May 2013 [Back to the Top]
Public policy towards wealth gap 'incoherent and contradictory'
This new book presents findings from a research programme on the distribution of wealth carried out in CASE over the last few years with the support of the Nuffield Foundation and Economic and Social Research Council. It presents new information on wealth inequality and how it has changed, how people accumulate wealth through capital gains and inheritance, and the effects of wealth-holding on life chances. It argues that despite its great importance, public policies towards personal wealth are inconsistent, contradictory and often regressive.
Household wealth in Great Britain amounts £5.5 trillion, even excluding pension rights – four times national income. It is far more unequally distributed than incomes or earnings. Official figures show that the top tenth of households owned 850 times the total wealth of the bottom tenth in 2008-10, if pension rights are added in. The top 1 per cent had 14 per cent of the total - an average of more than £5 million for each household.
Yet the results of a three year research programme presented in a new book by academics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) finds that tax, benefit, care, housing, and education policies are inconsistent and fail to narrow the wealth gap. The research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation with support from the Economic and Social Research Council.
“Looking across tax and social policies, it is hard to discern a consistent pattern for the treatment of wealth and savings,” said Professor John Hills, director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE.
“Our research shows that there are very sharp differences in treatment between people. Some are strongly encouraged and helped by the tax system to accumulate wealth in particular forms, while others face strong disincentives from means-testing to do so. People can even face both at the same time. These systems often reinforce wealth inequalities, rather than narrow them.”
The researchers looked at key issues connected with the distribution of personal wealth in the UK and examined why wealth is now such an important factor in social differences and public policy. Findings in the book include that:
Inheritances are worth about 4 per cent of national income. Each year around one adult in forty receives an inheritance, but these are very unequally distributed. Over the ten years from 1996 to 2005 half of the total went to the top tenth of inheritors, just 2 per cent of all individuals.
The 1995-2005 house price boom favoured mortgagors, those in middle age, and the more highly qualified. Those who were owner-occupiers by 2005 had the largest wealth increases. Increases in net wealth averaged £186,000 (at 2005 prices) for mortgagors who became outright owners, for instance.
Having wealthier parents and having more of one’s own financial assets early in adulthood are both associated with improved outcomes in education, employment and health – outcomes which can themselves lead to further accumulations of wealth, increasing the gaps still further, as well as directly improving quality of life.
The findings reveal a positive association between early asset-holding and subsequent general health and psychological well-being ten or even 20 years later.
“The value of the differences in wealth between the comfortably off - not just the super-rich - and others increased substantially over the last 20 years. It would now take many more years of saving for someone with a middle income to move up the wealth range than in the past, so these wealth differences are becoming cemented in place. Wealth - and access to it through family or inheritance - is of huge importance to people’s life chances. Yet we talk far less about policies towards wealth and what can be done for those with low assets or in debt than we do about income differences,” said Professor Hills.
Sharon Witherspoon, director of the Nuffield Foundation, said: “This is a comprehensive look at wealth, which as the authors show, requires a much broader perspective than is often supposed. This analysis shows how important it is to take a view over the course of people’s lives, and to consider what that is likely to mean for future generations too. It is only by looking at wealth in this way that we can start an informed discussion about how we might make public policy in this area more coherent and consistent.”
News Posted: 08 May 2013 [Back to the Top]
Tuesday 4th June 2013
Chaired by Professor Anne Power, London School of Economics and Liz Richardson, University of Manchester
An open forum led by LSE Housing and Communities to uncover the positive contributions of social landlords and demonstrate their value.
News Posted: 19 April 2013 [Back to the Top]
Good measures matter
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