The Fair Necessities

We propose a definition of fairness in terms of five ‘fair necessities’ that could form the basis of an organising philosophy that most people in Britain would support. This in turn could underpin a platform for root-and-branch reform of the way that our society and economy is organised, which could draw support from a wide range of political traditions and parties.

Our proposed five ‘fair necessities’ are as follows:

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FAIR REWARDS Everyone is rewarded in proportion to their effort and talents*

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FAIR OPPORTUNITIES Everyone has the same substantive opportunities to realise their potential**

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FAIR EXCHANGE Everyone contributes to society as far as they can, and is supported by society when they need it

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FAIR ESSENTIALS Everyone has their basic needs met so that no one lives in poverty

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FAIR TREATMENT Everyone is treated equally in terms of due process, respect, social status, political influence and public services***

* Exceptional rewards are only fair if they correspond to a universally accepted exceptional performance or contribution.

** This requires radical steps to remove structural barriers that face people born into disadvantaged circumstances, effectively by designing out bad luck.

*** Some people (or regions) need to be treated differently (equity) to have the same opportunities as everyone else. This is the idea behind levelling up.