All workers should be guaranteed fair wages and equal pay for equal work, reasonable terms and conditions, adequate contractual security, safe and healthy working conditions, equal opportunities for jobs and promotion, and enough time for rest and leisure, with the right to unionisation.


For more on responsible business, see our sister organisation, the Good Business Charter.


Fairness and work

The social contract – the link between working hard and enjoying a decent quality of life – needs to be reinstated.

We have not yet achieved fairness in the workplace. For example:

  • Low wages (combined with the increasing cost of living and inadequate benefits, as well as precarious jobs) are contributing to an increasing problem of in-work poverty in the UK. The link between hard work and a good quality of life (the social contract) has broken down.
  • The COVID pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated issues of poverty pay and unemployment. COVID-related job losses have had a disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities. COVID has also shown us how much we rely on the labour of those at the bottom of the income ladder.
  • Increasing numbers of people are on insecure contracts, including zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment and the gig economy.
  • Equal pay for equal work is a long way from being realised, whether for women, ethnic minorities or disabled people (and with particularly large disparities for people in more than one of those groups). Meanwhile, levels of executive pay remain unreasonably high.
  • Working conditions and allowances remain inadequate, with policy failures including an ineffective shared parental leave policy and inadequate sick pay provision.
  • Equal opportunities for jobs and promotions are a distant prospect, whether on the basis of class and income, or race, or gender, or disability.
  • Trade union membership in Britain has more than halved since 1979.

A covid chasm has opened up between low paid and average paid workers and the better off. It feels like that divide is really sharp. Politicians need to start addressing how to close that chasm. That’s important not just for working families but for the economy. We hear a lot about levelling up, but if it is not about workers’ rights, their bargaining power and their pay, then what is it about?

Frances O'Grady, Trades Union Congress, September 2021

What needs to change

A fair society is only possible if working conditions and equality of opportunity in the workplace are improved, so that everyone has equal chances to make the most of their talents and everyone is able to live a life of dignity and control. Improving working lives benefits everyone in society; for example, there is a proven link between better job security and increased economic productivity. Businesses cannot succeed if the underlying social infrastructure – schools, healthcare, security, housing, and so on – is not meeting the needs of its workers and of the wider population. Employers benefit from investing in better wages and contractual and working conditions for all workers. Everyone in society benefits if key workers, such as nurses and carers, drivers and supermarket workers, enjoy better terms and conditions. Executive pay should be linked to success in achieving long-term targets.

The government should tackle low wages that are leading to increasing levels of in-work poverty, for example by:

  • Official government adoption of the Minimum Income Standard, which calculates what level of income is necessary to afford the goods and services that cover essential material needs and give people the opportunities and choices required to participate in society
  • Raising the national living wage to the level of the ‘real living wage’ based on the cost of living
  • Applying a 20% higher minimum wage to zero hours contracts and other uncontracted hours
  • Abandoning the idea that minimum wage increases allow large cuts in tax credit and universal credit top-ups to low-income working families (which can often dwarf the income gains)
  • Rebuilding and strengthening collective bargaining (introducing sectoral collective bargaining, especially in low-paid sectors like social care and retail, as well as more firm-level bargaining) and other institutions like wage councils

The government should deal with the unequal impacts of unemployment on particular groups, and take steps to prevent large-scale unemployment in the future, for example by:

  • Targeting full employment in the post-pandemic economy (meaning that we achieve low levels of underemployment as well as unemployment)
  • Introducing and funding a ‘right to retrain’ scheme for workers at risk of losing their job, for example due to the pandemic, automation or decarbonisation, as well as investing public funds to create high quality new jobs in the green economy and in sectors like social care

The government should improve job security for the increasing numbers of people on insecure contracts, for example by:

  • Introducing a ban on ‘fire and rehire’ practices
  • Cracking down on companies that use bogus self-employment arrangements to deny their workers sick pay, annual leave and other basic protections
  • Banning zero hours contracts (unless entered into freely by the worker), and in the short-term, persuading companies to implement them more fairly (by scheduling shifts with at least two weeks’ notice and paying shifts cancelled within that period, by allowing employees to request contracts with more fixed hours at any time without consequences, and by reviewing actual hours worked annually with a view to providing a contract close to those hours)

The government should do more to ensure that the legal requirement for equal pay for equal work is observed, for example by:

  • Requiring all large organisations (more than 250 employees) to monitor and report on gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps, and publishing action plans with regular progress updates
  • Requiring all large organisations to publish their pay scales and reforming corporate governance requirements around executive pay (for example, the IPPR has proposed that a third of the membership of remuneration committees should be made up of elected worker representatives, that their remit should be widened to include the pay, incentives and conditions of all company staff, and that executive pay packages should be simplified and linked to drivers of long-term value such as innovation and productivity, not just share prices)

The government should improve working conditions and allowances, for example by:

  • Reforming shared parental leave by giving fathers an additional ‘use it or lose it’ allowance to encourage men to take a greater role in care responsibilities
  • Extending statutory sick pay to all employees, not just those who earn over £120 per week, and increasing the amounts paid out under it
  • Requiring all jobs to be available and advertised on a flexible and potential job-share basis, except with good reason (the government is currently consulting on plans to introduce the right for all employees to request flexible working from day one)
  • Legislating to improve working conditions by targeting some of the abusive practices that have been used by certain employers in recent years

The government should take steps to ensure genuinely equal opportunities for jobs and promotions for everyone in society, for example by:

  • Backing schemes to encourage employers to act more ambitiously on equal opportunities, such as the Social Mobility Pledge (while recognising that they by themselves are not enough)
  • Considering how best to tackle ongoing structural discrimination in labour markets, such as racial disparities in employment rates and hiring practices outlined by the Runnymede Trust and gender inequalities in terms of applications and promotions (as well as pay and working conditions and allowances, both covered above)
  • Making the case for why employers benefit from hiring more people from diverse backgrounds (including but not only those from working class backgrounds)
  • Tailoring the apprenticeship levy more effectively for disadvantaged trainees (recommended by the Social Mobility Commission)
  • Holding apprenticeship providers to account for improving participation rates (recommended by the Equality and Human Rights Commission)
  • Acting on its commitment to supporting one million more disabled people into work over the next 10 years (recommended by the Equality and Human Rights Commission)
  • Encouraging and incentivising employers to create or adapt jobs that are suitable for lone parents, carers and people with mental and physical health problems (recommended by the Marmot Review)

On the right to unionisation, IPPR has proposed a series of reforms:

  • Doubling collective bargaining coverage to 50 per cent of workers by 2030, with a focus on the lowest paid sectors
  • Giving unions stronger rights of physical access to workplaces, combined with a ‘digital right of access’ to reach remote workers and a new ‘right to join’ for workers
  • A trial of auto-enrolment into trade unions within the ‘gig’ economy, on the model of auto-enrolment into workplace pensions
  • A WorkerTech Innovation Fund to support unions to innovate and use digital technology to recruit and organise

A wide range of proposals have been made for how best to level the playing field for small businesses. Many of these require action by government, such as reducing opportunities for tax avoidance by large multinational companies (with a particular but not sole focus on some sectors, e.g. big tech), or legislating or enforcing legislation on issues such as supplier payments, bank lending or competition, or providing more support and advice to small businesses, or ensuring that small businesses are properly considered and fairly treated in the design and implementation of major policies related to long-term changes, such as the decarbonisation of the economy.

Some of the changes outlined above can also be achieved, in whole or in part, by responsible business practices, such as paying fair tax and paying suppliers promptly (to benefit small businesses), or paying the real living wage, introducing fairer hours and contracts, encouraging employee representation and ensuring employee wellbeing (to benefit workers). These and other responsible business practices are included in the Good Business Charter.

IPPR make a broader point about changing the power dynamics in the labour market, arguing that “power needs to be shifted to employees and workers, from employers and shareholders, and to companies that work in the interest of society from those that extract from society”.

There is also a longer term question about the future of work in a world of increasing automation and artificial intelligence, where both have developed to the extent that a very large number of jobs are no longer performed by humans, and there needs to be a separation of work from income. This gives rise to a number of fundamental questions around fairness, such as whether and how to introduce a universal basic income, what would be the fairest way to distribute the wealth that is created by machines, how best to redesign education and whether the state should focus on providing ‘socially useful’ learning while people should be required to invest their own money in training that provides them with skills that will enable them to work, and so on.

A fair economy is a strong economy. It used to be thought that prosperity and economic justice were in conflict; we had to choose one or other but could not have both. The international evidence now points in precisely the opposite direction. A more equal economy generates stronger and more stable growth, lower social costs and greater wellbeing. Both economics and morality argue for an economy which achieves prosperity and justice together.

IPPR Commission for Economic Justice, September 2018

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Work and fairness

The principle of equality of opportunity applies. Every worker should have genuinely equal prospects for advancement when looking for a new job or seeking promotion, regardless of their background. Every business should have equal opportunities in terms of access to finance and to markets, taxes and regulations, payments and so on.

The principle of equality of treatment also applies. Workers should receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability or other personal characteristics.

The principle of equality of outcome applies in terms of minimum standards. Every worker should be guaranteed minimum standards in terms of wages, job security, and working conditions.

As the IPPR’s Commission for Economic Justice points out: “A fair economy is a strong economy. It used to be thought that prosperity and economic justice were in conflict; we had to choose one or other but could not have both. The international evidence now points in precisely the opposite direction. A more equal economy generates stronger and more stable growth, lower social costs and greater wellbeing. Both economics and morality argue for an economy which achieves prosperity and justice together.”

It shouldn't be possible for people to be working and yet to be unable to afford the basics needed for a decent quality of life, whether or not they have children and regardless of whether both adults (in two-adult households) are working. A society where the basic social contract that links hard work and a good basic standard of living has broken down is not a fair society.

One aspect of the social contract is related to high living costs (housing, energy, food, childcare and so on), which fall outside the scope of this issue briefing. The core issue covered in this briefing is that all workers should be treated in accordance with the universal declaration of human rights*, with particular attention paid to wages (including minimum wage levels), job security (including zero hours contracts and 'fire and rehire'), working conditions and allowances (including leave and sick pay), equal pay for equal work (including gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps, and pay ratios), equal opportunities for jobs and promotions, and the right to unionisation.

* Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his/her interests. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

This briefing also covers fairness from the perspective of small business owners, stressing the need for a level playing field for small businesses in terms of access to finance and to markets, taxes and regulations, payments, access to support from government and so on. The state should ensure that markets function in such a way that all businesses are able to compete fairly, for example by ensuring that the tax system is designed and implemented in ways that do not disadvantage domestic firms compared to international ones (or bricks and mortar firms compared to online, or small compared to big), by preventing the emergence of monopolies or cartels, by encouraging genuine productive enterprise and discouraging rent-seeking and financial engineering, protecting suppliers in their relationships with larger clients, and ensuring that banks are lending to credit-worthy businesses.

Societies that treat workers fairly are more productive and more successful. As Will Hutton argues in Them and Us: “It is whole economies and whole societies that innovate and take risks. The mass of workers and citizens will be much more willing to embrace change if there is a decent safety net, social insurance, state activism to create employment opportunities and an education and skills system that will help them deal with the new demands that are made of them." He also suggests that “Britain's capacity to develop a more balanced economy, build companies enthused by business purpose, and dynamise its public sector will depend on a revolution in its human capital, which in turn must have its roots in a fair society… desert must be due and accorded those who have applied their talents, not prescribed through the good or bad luck of birth."

Learning from other countries

A recent paper by European Futures makes the case for collective bargaining as a solution to in-work poverty, as opposed to minimum wage laws: “Collective bargaining arrangements appear to be the best means of ending in-work poverty. Finland, Denmark, and Sweden do not have statutory minimum wages, yet they have some of the lowest levels of in-work poverty in the EUNine out of the eleven countrieswith the lowest rates of low pay (calculated as two-thirds of the national median wage) had more than 70% of workers covered by collective agreements. The extent of coverage for collective agreements is essential for creating a wage floor and protecting workers from low pay, which is recognised by the EU. Bargaining at the industry level (in contrast to the company level) is more effective at raising the wage structure overall. The Economic Policy Institute in the US found that collective bargaining also primarily benefits low-wage workers more than higher-wage workers, thereby reducing wage inequality. Collective bargaining is therefore capable of reducing wage inequality in addition to reducing in-work poverty. The Nordic countries are interesting and effective examples of collective bargaining, primarily achieved through voluntarism with limited government involvement. This is often referred to as an organised-decentralisation system of collective bargaining, whereby wages are set by sectoral (industry-level) bargaining, but negotiations also occur at the company level.”

Most EU countries outlaw zero hours contracts, heavily restrict them, or don’t see them widely used. The UK is one of around half a dozen European countries (including several in Scandinavia) where zero hours contracts are both legal and fairly common. Sweden allows them, but it also has a unique ‘transition system’, a nationwide private welfare service for workers who have become recently unemployed due to redundancy. Companies pay into ‘job security councils’, which provide skilled coaches who pick you up, dust you down and match your skills and ambitions with the market. There are 16 of these organisations, each covering a different sector of the economy and tasked with finding new jobs for workers who have lost their jobs for economic reasons. As a result, Sweden has the best re-employment rates in the developed world – about 90% of laid-off workers are back in work within a year, according to the OECD.

The EU is trying to introduce a Pay Transparency Directive to strengthen the application of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value between men and women through pay transparency and enforcement mechanisms (one of the fundamental EU rights and principles, laid down in the Treaty of Rome). However, this has not yet been adopted, and doubts remain as to whether this legislation alone will tackle the gender pay gap, since they do not tackle the informal arrangements that maintain inequalities inside organisations.

Parental leave is more generous in many countries, including Scandinavia and Germany, than in the UK. For example, in Finland, parents are allowed 39 weeks of paid leave at 80% of salary; each parent gets 13 weeks off from work, and the remaining 13 weeks can be split between both parents or as they deem fit. Fathers generally use up 45% of the parental leave benefits.

The EU’s legislation to ensure fair competition in the single market does not apply equally to small businesses as to large multinationals, and there is a campaign underway to redress this, arguing that “illegal market practices, disproportionate compliance costs, unfair tax regimes and late payments prevent SMEs from innovating, growing and creating jobs… a level playing field allows businesses to prosper and grow and avoids disadvantages for SMEs compared to other stakeholders”.

The situation today

Low wages (combined with the increasing cost of living and inadequate benefits, as well as precarious jobs, as explored below) are contributing to an increasing problem of in-work poverty in the UK. The link between hard work and a good quality of life (the social contract) has broken down. IPPR found earlier this year that, while unemployment has fallen, in-work poverty has been rising since 2004. Levels were highest in London, Wales and the North of England, reaching a new high of 17% of working households before the start of the pandemic, and while single parents and large families were most at risk (with 42% of families with three or more children in poverty, up more than two-thirds in the last decade), even families with one full-time and one part-time earner were at greater risk of poverty (up from 5% to 10% over the same period). A more recent IPPR report noted that, while pre-pandemic rates of unemployment were at a 45-year low, almost 40% of employees have seen their hourly pay fall in real terms since the 2007/08 financial crisis, and a majority have seen less than 2% real terms increase per year over that period. The Archbishop of York called earlier this year for a basic wage, arguing that we need to “reset our compass”

Unemployment also affects some groups more than others, despite historically low levels overall. The employment rate for disabled people was 54% in 2020, compared to 82% for non-disabled people. ONS figures for 2019/20 show that unemployment was highest for people from a Pakistani (9%) or Black (9%) ethnic background, and lowest for people from a White (4%), Indian (4%), or Chinese (5%) ethnic background. The gender gap in unemployment is small (4.4% for women and 4.7% for men). The move towards a net zero economy will put many jobs in carbon-intensive sectors (especially but not only in the energy sector) at risk over the coming years.

The COVID pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated issues of poverty pay and unemployment. The Resolution Foundation pointed out that, while the pandemic has affected the youngest and oldest workers most, the furlough scheme has meant that incomes fell most in lockdown for those in their late 40s. A recent IPPR report noted that people on the lowest wages were most likely to lose their job or be furloughed, and that most of those who have lost their job because of the pandemic might lack the skills and training needed to obtain one of the newly created roles.

The Trades Union Congress has pointed out the disproportionate impact of COVID-related job losses on ethnic minorities, estimating that the overall BAME unemployment rate rose from 5.8% to 9.5% from 2019 to 2020, compared to an increase from 3.4% to 4.5% for white workers, and suggesting that structural racism in the UK’s labour market was to blame. Analysis by the Guardian has found that young black workers have been hit disproportionately hard during the pandemic, with more than 40% unemployed, three times worse than white workers of the same age. In a report on DWP Employment Support, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said it was concerned that the Department for Work and Pensions “does not know why” unemployment for young black people increased by more than half to 41.6 per cent over the course of 2020, while unemployment among young white people grew just 2 percentage points to 12.4 per cent over the same period. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that Bangladeshi and Pakistani men were four times more likely to work in sectors shut down by COVID than White British men. Another IFS paper on ethnic minorities and social mobility (not specifically in the context of COVID) found that employment disadvantage of minority ethnic groups persists in generations born or raised in the UK, despite improvements in their educational attainment, supporting claims of structural discrimination in the labour market, which echoes the findings of a report by the Runnymede Trust.

Poor quality work, low wages and unemployment have a negative impact on health outcomes (including COVID mortality), as recent studies of seaside towns and the North of England have shown.

Increasing numbers of people are on insecure contracts, including zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment and the gig economy. IPPR notes that the use of insecure contracts has risen dramatically over the last decade, with 5.5 million people now estimated to be in insecure work such as temporary work, ‘bogus’ self-employment, non-standard contracts, agency and ‘gig’ work, or on zero-hours contracts. The use of zero-hours contracts has grown hugely in recent years, and the ONS estimates that more than 960,000 people are on them, up from just 168,000 in 2010. The FT noted that 10% of 16-to-24-year-old workers were on zero-hours contracts in 2020, up from 6% in 2013. Women are more likely to be on zero-hours contracts than men, partly because women are more likely to work in sectors where such contracts are more prevalent, and partly because often the only alternative to a fixed 9-5 contract is a zero-hours contract. Another IPPR report estimates that of those in insecure work, 2.5 million workers are underemployed in the UK. Two-thirds of zero-hours workers want jobs with guaranteed hours, according to a 2017 poll. Those in insecure work often don’t know what hours they will work (causing chaos with arrangements like childcare) or whether they will be able to pay their next bills. Their work can suddenly dry up when the business sees demand dip. Insecure work is also bad for the economy, with clear evidence that decent work leads to better economic outcomes (see OECD research, but more research is needed). The TUC notes that insecure work is concentrated in occupations like caring and leisure, and has found that 67% of insecure workers say they receive nothing when off sick compared with 7% of secure workers who reported receiving nothing when off sick, noting that inadequate employment protections compel insecure workers to continue working throughout the pandemic. A report published by the TUC and Race on the Agenda in June found that ethnic minority women were almost twice as likely to be on zero-hours contracts as white men (4.5% compared to 2.5%), and that about one in six zero-hours contract workers are BAME, though BAME workers make up only one in nine workers overall.

COVID has also led to some companies using fire and rehire tactics against workers, in which employees are either threatened with the loss of their job if they do not sign up to new terms and conditions of employment, or are made redundant and forced to reapply for roles with new terms and conditions. There is no specific legislation to outlaw fire and rehire, but there have been calls from anti-poverty charities as well as MPs from across the political spectrum for the government to ban it.

Equal pay for equal work is a long way from being realised. TUC figures show that disabled workers earn 20% less per hour than non-disabled workers. ONS figures show that the ethnicity pay gap is 2.3%, although this hides a much more complex picture, while they estimate that the gender pay gap among all employees in the UK is 15.5% (and this is being exacerbated by the pandemic). The Fawcett Society has analysed the intersectional pay gaps for women of colour, finding that women of colour consistently earn less per hour than White British men, with pay gaps ranging from 10% for Indian women to 28% for Pakistani women.

Meanwhile, levels of executive pay remain high, despite having fallen slightly during the pandemic. The High Pay Centre’s 2021 survey has found that the bosses of FTSE 100 companies are paid more in a year than many people earn in a lifetime (the average figure of £2.69m is 86 times the £31,000 that an ordinary worker earns in a year). The highest FTSE pay ratio was at building materials group CRH, whose Chief Executive’s pay package was more than 200 times the median employee salary.

Working conditions and allowances remain inadequate for many workers. For example, the shared parental leave policy is suffering from low take-up due to its poor design. In many households, both adults need to work to avoid falling into poverty, but are prevented from doing so due to a lack of flexible working provisions; IPPR found that 64% of working women are unable to vary their working hours and 25% find it difficult to take an hour or two of leave at short notice. The Resolution Foundation has argued that statutory sick pay (which is worth £96 a week) is “woefully inadequate”, that the minimum earnings threshold of £120 a week excludes too many people, and that this has led to many people failing to self-isolate during the COVID pandemic because doing so would cause unmanageable financial hardship. Meanwhile, there are many examples of workers having to endure unacceptable working conditions for employers such as Amazon.

Equal opportunities for jobs and promotions are a distant prospect. Class is one factor; TUC analysis of data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that graduates with parents in ‘professional and routine’ jobs are more than twice as likely as working-class graduates to start on a high salary, no matter what degree level they attain. Race and gender are also important. For example, the Fawcett Society’s review of the pay and progression of women of colour found, among other things, that ethnic minority candidates had to send 60% more job applications to receive as many calls back as White British people, that ethnic minority graduates are significantly less likely to obtain employment six months post-graduation compared to white graduates, and that one third of women of colour report being unfairly passed over for or denied a promotion at work. Disabled people also suffer from a lack of equal opportunities in the workplace; Disability Rights UK found that only eight percent of workplaces have special procedures to attract job applications from disabled people.

Trade union membership in Britain has more than halved since 1979, with millions now working in insecure work rather than in secure, unionised jobs. Union membership has declined in parallel with the reduction in size of many traditional industries that were highly unionised, such as steel, coal, printing, and the docks. However, the right to unionisation has also been eroded in various ways by successive governments, through for example the dismantling of sectoral collective bargaining, the introduction of employment tribunal fees and the 2016 Trade Union Act that introduced a 50% turnout requirement for strike ballots, further restraints on picketing, and a requirement that union members’ contributions to political funds can only be made on an ‘opt-in’ basis.

Small businesses (which account for 48% of private sector jobs) do not operate on a level playing field with their larger competitors, especially those that operate internationally. Smaller businesses were also particularly impacted by the pandemic, with many reporting significant falls in revenue and several industry sectors experiencing notably worse outcomes on measures such as redundancies, trading status, and turnover (IPPR noted that small firms are more concentrated in sectors affected by lockdowns than large firms). The lack of fair competition with larger companies manifests itself in a variety of ways:

  • Access to finance (bank lending to small businesses shrank significantly after the 2008 financial crisis, although it has picked up since then, in large part driven by government loan schemes, and the Federation of Small Businesses reports that many small business are choosing to accept slower growth rather than seeking external finance)
  • Fair competition with monopolistic companies, with the increasing number of ‘winner-takes-all’ markets (for example in high-tech industries) driving many small companies out of business
  • Taxes and regulations, for example with large global companies able to use loopholes in international tax rules to minimise their corporation tax bills
  • Payments from large customers, whereby many small companies are forced out of business due to cashflow shortages caused by late payments from customers (such as supermarkets) who provide a very high proportion of their revenue, as well as having their margins squeezed by customers who are able to use their market dominance to negotiate aggressively on price
  • Access to support and advice, with significant gaps in provision for small firms and the self-employed, as outlined by the Federation of Small Businesses
  • Distribution of the costs of transition to net zero (which, as the FSB points out, has not yet been looked at in detail by government)

Public attitudes to the wide range of issues outlined above are varied and often contradictory. For example, the British Social Attitudes survey in 2017 found that a majority of the public believe that employers should be responsible for paying wages that cover the cost of living, and support a national minimum wage increase and wage top-ups for low-earning single parents and working couples without children. Polling in May 2020 also found that two-thirds of Britons value 'low-skilled' workers more since the pandemic. However, the recent Unequal Britain report by King’s College London found that, while 47% of Britons say that discrimination helps explain why black people have lower earnings, 13% think that this is a result of black people lacking motivation or willpower, and people are more likely to think that job losses caused by the crisis are the result of personal failure than chance. The research also found that the public are divided on whether the government’s support for workers and businesses during the pandemic strengthens the case for more intervention in the economy in the future: 45% believe it does, while 36% believe it should just be a one-off, and attitudes are hugely affected by existing political views and age.

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