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:
FAIR REWARDS Everyone is rewarded in proportion to their effort and talents*
FAIR OPPORTUNITIES Everyone has the same substantive opportunities to realise their potential**
FAIR EXCHANGE Everyone contributes to society as far as they can, and is supported by society when they need it
FAIR ESSENTIALS Everyone has their basic needs met so that no one lives in poverty
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.