The COVID pandemic has increased public awareness of the level of inequality in our society, and of the impact that this has on people's living standards and even on life expectancy. This level of inequality is not only the result of varying degrees of talent and effort; it is mostly due to people having very different life chances and opportunities to make the most of their talents, and so it is unfair. We see this unfairness in every aspect of society and the economy, from democracy, education, the environment, health and housing, to justice, social security, taxation, wealth and work.
Most people recognise that the society we live in is increasingly unfair. The majority of people believe that everyone should have the same opportunities to succeed, and that social and economic inequalities have become so stark that this is often no longer possible. The COVID pandemic has shown us just how unequal our society has become, and what this means not just for people’s life chances, but even for their prospects of survival. People are increasingly concerned about inequalities based on income and wealth and on where people live (i.e. place-based inequalities, which is the focus of the government’s current ‘levelling up’ agenda), although many people appear to be less concerned about inequalities based on race, gender and other personal characteristics. But we know that racial inequalities are huge, partly but not only because of discrimination, while gender and economic inequalities are deeply intertwined.
When looking at fairness across society (and the economy), we focus on ten interrelated issues that we believe are priorities for action, and demonstrate how far we are from a fair society: