Buzzwords come and go quickly in politics. A few years ago, it seemed like not a single sentence could come out of the Labour press office without the ‘cost of living’ getting mentioned. It even reached the point it became a running joke amongst Labour activists and it certainly stopped having much of an impact with the public.
Unfortunately, despite it getting less coverage these days, the fact is that the issue never really went away. Whatever else is happening to the UK economy, all the indicators show it’s getting harder for people to deal with the rising cost of living. In fact, the latest figures show household spending power has declined in seven out of the last eleven months, meaning that most people are worse off than they were this time last year, without any signs things are going to improve.
While households in the bottom 60% of the income distribution have generally got poorer, the percentages get worse the further down the scale you go with the bottom 20%, the poorest members of our community, seeing their spending power decline by almost a quarter over the last year. It only adds insult to injury to highlight the wealthiest 20% of have actually seen their spending power grow over the same period.
That poverty exists is bad enough, but what kind of government takes economic decisions which make the rich richer and the poor poorer? That’s not progress and it’s not justice. The UK’s growing inequality is not only inherently wrong, it’s also bad policy. Epidemiologists have shown that the more unequal countries become, the worse the outcomes for the whole of society. It doesn’t have to be this way, policy choices helped cause the increasing inequality and with a Government committed to reversing those decisions we could start to turn things around.