Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to put “people before privilege” via Labour’s policy announcements at the upcoming party conference, where he will set out plans to build an economy that values the “health, wealth and wellbeing of every citizen”.
Noting that vast inequality is a “sign of a sick economy”, the Labour leader will warn against an “broken” economic system that “inflates the wealth of the richest while failing to invest in our future”.
Labour analysis of Office of National Statistics data has made clear the “dramatic scale” of inequality in the UK. As might be expected, London comes out far ahead in terms of wealth, with the richest 10% of Londoners holding more wealth than entire regions such as the South West, East of England and the North West.
The Labour analysis of the ONS figures show that the richest 10% of Londoners own:
- Almost two and a half times the wealth of Wales.
- More than one and a half times the wealth of the East Midlands.
- More than one and a half times the wealth of the West Midlands.
- More than one and half times the wealth of Yorkshire and the Humber.
- Three and a half times the wealth of the entire North East.
- One and a quarter times the wealth of Scotland.
The analysis also shows deep inequalities within the regions, showing that the richest 10% of Londoners and those in the South East own 61% and 53% of all wealth in their respective regions.
Commenting on this analysis of wealth inequality, Corbyn said: “The dramatic scale of wealth inequality in our country is a sign of a sick economy. The system is broken when it inflates the wealth of the richest, while failing to invest in our future.
“This inequality doesn’t just undermine our future prosperity, it’s linked to all sorts of social problems, including violent crime, worse health outcomes and reduced access to education. And we know that concentrations of wealth generate unaccountable power, corrupting our politics in the process.”
Striking an optimistic tone, Corbyn added: “But we can change things. Democracy moves power from the bank balance and the boardroom to the voting booth. The next Labour government will proudly put people before privilege, building an economy that values the health, wealth and wellbeing of every citizen.”
The announcement from Corbyn today stands in contrast to messaging from the new Prime Minister. Labour has already warned against promises from the Boris Johnson-Dominic Cummings duo that would see inequality rise further.
Under Johnson, the government plans to introduce tax cuts for those on the higher rate of income tax and increase the threshold for national insurance contributions. Analysis suggests this would benefit the richest 20% of families at least seven times more than the poorest 20%, and push 50,000 families below the poverty line.
The renewed emphasis on wealth inequality suggests that the Labour leadership will keep up efforts to frame the early election campaign as not wholly dominated by Brexit but also linked to broader issues facing the country.