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News and links

“The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which uses a thoughtful and innovative methodology to estimate the minimum income necessary to achieve a ‘socially acceptable” standard of living, reckons that a family of five with one breadwinner – my situation today and my father’s at the time – needs £690 a week before tax. Since 80 per cent of employees earn less than that, it is easy to see why many families require two incomes, and why many struggle at Christmas” – Tim Harford

Economists call for a Brandeis tax to tackle inequality directly, the tax would limit income to a multiple of the median income (the authors suggest 36 times, £900,000 per year in the UK). See the NY Times op-ed piece and the detail.

“If we are going to get back to real capitalism, we need to focus as much attention on our culture and values as on our economy.” Conservative MP’s defence of the capitalism of Adam Smith against neoliberal “crony capitalism”. Meanwhile the Conservative leadership are talking about redefining child poverty as figures show it increasing.


Are You a Quaker?

The national Equality Trust have had enormous help and support right from the start from individual Quakers and Quaker groups up and down the country. If you are a Quaker and receive this email as one of our supporters or local group members, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Kathryn Busby of the national Equality Trust at: This is for an article which will be published sometime early in 2012 in The Friend magazine.


Attitudes to Poverty and Wealth

Bankers who think they are “entitled to a bonus under almost any circumstances” consider legal action to get them, whilst a study finds many carers get less than Minimum Wage, with no legal redress: (ONS finds 300,000 workers get less than the minimum wage)

The British Social Attitudes Survey found over half of people think poverty will increase in the next ten years. One in five people think poverty is due to injustice in society, twice as common was the belief that poverty is an inevitable part of modern life, and a quarter think poverty is due to laziness encouraged by generous benefits. On child poverty, the report states “people agree that child poverty exists in Britain, often to a substantial degree, and view action to reduce it as important and as a role for central Government. The public also shares the Government’s view that child poverty has multiple causes, among which they tend to emphasise parental problems”. The majority (60%) believed ordinary people did not get a fair share of the nations wealth. That question was one of many where people who had been privately educated were less sympathetic to social justice, even accounting for social class, the authors concluding that “private education does perpetuate a form of separate development in Britain or ‘social apartheid'”.
Guardian Summary
Full report

Sheffield Fairness Commission

The commission will be chaired by Alan Walker, professor of Social Policy (especially around welfare and social justice) and Gerontology (study of older people in society). The Commission will be a select committee model – calling people in to give evidence before drawing up recommendations for the Council. The full message from Lee Adams is below:

Dear Colleagues, I am replying to your email to the Chief Executive.

We are indeed setting up a Fairness Commission, it is to be chaired by Professor Alan Walker and will begin in February 2012. I am the lead officer. We are in the process of selecting commissioners to serve on the commission which will be run as a select committee. It will appear on the Forward Plan shortly – but it may be a decision by the Leader not necessarily going to Cabinet. However, it has been agreed by the Leader informally at present and planning is proceeding. You may be pleased to hear that Richard Wilkinson will be involved – though I am unsure yet if it will be as a commissioner or a witness. We will likely put out a call for witnesses and evidence early in 2012. I hope this reassures you – I’d be pleased to know more about the Sheffield Equality Group.

Kind regards, Lee Adams, Deputy Chief Executive