The term first used by Ian Macleod in 1965 perfectly describes the state we’re currently living in where the prosperous utilise the government to ‘stay rich and get richer’. The question then arises as to whether we can call our country a true democracy as the poor minorities are near-enough invisible to the state power holders.
In an ideal world, some people will always have more than others: it is only fair that they do. But is it fair that in reality the richest 20% of the UK have 60% of all the wealth in the country? This is double what everybody else gets and 100 times more than what the bottom 20% have. In terms of the richest 1%, however, they have as much wealth as 60% of the UK combined. It’s unfortunate that the government can’t – or choose not to – do much about it, but when almost one third of wealth in the UK is inherited and not earned is there much that can be done? Despite 78% of the population thinking the gap of wealth distribution between the rich and poor is too large the UK remains one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, after the US where the richest 1% take home 17% of the national income compared to our 14%. In fact, reducing this gap is more popular at 80% than reducing immigration (77%) and cutting taxes (71%).
As students we are continuously told to work hard as it will pay off in the long run; continuously told that we hold the future and continuously reminded that how successful we are in terms of wealth comes down to how much effort we put in now. However, what are the chances that we, normal state-educated teenagers, have of bagging the highest paid jobs? In fact, the top jobs are dominated by people who went to private schools. Professional careers make up 42% of our workforce and are expected to increase over the next decade to 46%. Those who hold the greatest influence in our society are those in the top jobs, therefore they should represent the whole of society and not just an elite few as presently being done. In addition, the 2013 study by Blanden and Macmillan showed that children from the richest families are twice as likely as those from the poorest families to get 1 or more A-Levels and are 3 times more likely to participate in higher education. This shows that despite being ambitious the wealth already within a person’s family may exist as a drawback from early in their life.
With tuition fees on the increase many more people are becoming unwilling to partake in broadening their education due to the fact that they will be in debt for the majority of their life. The Liberal Democrats won 27% of the vote in 2010, many of whom may actually have been hopeful or prospective students who were reliant on the party to see through their manifesto promise of cutting tuition fees. However, many were deeply disappointed when finding out that Nick Clegg had indeed gone back on the parties’ promises upon accepting the agreement terms of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition thus leading to the 2010 Student Protests.
It is obvious to see that wealth inequality heavily exists in our country. However, instead of this issue being debated to then come up with an answer to resolve the problem it is very much avoided by our leaders, most probably because they make up the wealthiest percentile of the United Kingdom. Is wealth inequality on the up rise and will it ever be dealt with properly?
Samina Salek, AS Politics Student