Major organisations representing or working with young people have joined together with campaign group One Society to call for a more equal society. Social welfare charities, student groups and the youth wings of a range of trade unions and parties are calling for policies that would close the gap between rich and poor. Reducing income inequality would improve social mobility and the quality of life for all young people, across the social spectrum.
The joint letter (available at www.onesociety.org.uk) is a response to the recent National Equality Panel’s report, and to the continuing economic challenges facing young people. The letter highlights how the young are disproportionately bearing the costs of the recession and recovery, especially compared with those at the top whose have seen their incomes and wealth vastly increase over the past thirty years.
The letter has been co-ordinated by One Society – a new campaign to highlight the negative effects of income inequality and promote policies which would narrow the gap between rich and poor.
Today, Demos publishes three One Society pamphlets which recommend a major set of policy proposals to tackle inequality. One Society will be using this menu of policy options to show that a more equal society is possible, plausible and credible – there are different routes to get there, and significant steps can be made by politicians straight away.
Malcolm Clark, One Society’s campaign director, said:
“Income inequality matters. Young people, already hit hard by the recession and bearing the costs of the recovery, are doubly disadvantaged as they have come of age in a more unequal society than previous generations.”
“The good news is that inequality is not inevitable, and can be reversed. Government policy can make a big difference. That is why a wide range of different organisations have joined calls for politicians of all parties to quickly get to grips with the issue and implement policies that will close the gap.”
“Young people want to live in a cohesive society which enables them to fulfill their potential and benefits all - the One Society that we’d all like to be part of.”
The individual signatories to the letter can be contacted for comment via their own organisations.
Notes to editors:
1. One Society is a new campaign, set up in association with The Equality Trust, to highlight the negative effects of income inequality, showcase research and policy solutions, and bring together people and organisations in support of a more equal society.
2. One Society believes that a larger divide, in wealth and power, between those at the very top and the rest of society is damaging to national well being. More equal societies work better for everyone; not just those at the bottom but right the way up: we all benefit.
3. Demos has published three One Society pamphlets making a case for why addressing inequality is important for the three main political parties. The pamphlets are available from www.demos.co.uk/publications ompelling evidence shows that large income inequalities within societies damage the social fabric and quality of life for everyone. The evidence is published in Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett's book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.
4. The joint letter originated from initial discussions at the Young people and the Economic Crisis session at Progressive London conference on 30 January 2010.
The Letter / Statement:
The National Equality Panel’s report published at the end of January confirmed what young people experience in their daily lives: a struggle to fulfil their potential and overcome the physical, social and psychological barriers that a more unequal society presents. The impact of the recession, disproportionately borne by the young, has exacerbated the damaging effects of growing up in a society marked by an increased and persisting gap between rich and poor. Employment, internships and now even higher education opportunities are becomingly increasingly difficult to access. Our backgrounds embed “deep seated and systematic differences” which can prevent many from fulfilling their potential. The negative effects of inequality are felt beyond any one class or section of society: mental and physical health problems are widespread; crime, bullying, and lack of trust affect many young people.
These issues cannot be tackled in isolation. The National Equality Panel's report is a reminder that the answer to reducing inequality is not confined just to helping those at the bottom while those at the top are left to accrue ever-larger salaries and wealth. The people that hold most responsibility for the recession should be bearing the costs of recovery. The same principle should also apply to those whose incomes rose disproportionately over the past thirty years compared to the rest of society.
If we are to succeed in tackling the big challenges this country faces, we need to rebuild a society that is cohesive, resilient and benefits all - the One Society that we’d like to be part of. The report made clear that income inequality matters, is not inevitable, and can be reversed. That is why we are calling for politicians to act now and put in place policies that will close the gap between rich and poor.
Noel Hatch, Compass Youth (chair)
Matt Dykes, TUC (youth policy officer)
Susan Nash, NUS (vice-president, society and citizenship)
Liam Purcell, Church Action on Poverty (communications manager)
Jane Slowey, Foyer Federation (chief executive)
Patrick Vernon, Afiya Trust (chief executive)
Titus Alexander, Novas Scarman Group (head of learning and campaigns)
Emma Corbett, social worker
David Babbs, 38 Degrees
Dominic Potter, Internocracy (director)
Max Freedman, Unite parliamentary branch (chair)
Sam Tarry, Young Labour (chair)
Joe Rinaldi Johnson, Liberal Youth (vice-chair, communications)
Joseph Russo, Co-operative Party Youth (secretary)
Rowenna Davis, freelance journalist
Ben Little, lecturer, Middlesex University