Thanks for reading.
Last week we launched the Fairness Index, at fairness.org.uk. If you missed the online launch event you can watch the recording (61 minutes) or just the section on the index itself (17 minutes).
This week’s Fair Comment summarises the key content in the index.
Our other regular sections will be back next week.
Chief Executive Fairness Foundation
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The Fairness Index
As many struggle with the cost of living, long-term ill-health caused by Covid and rising food and fuel prices, the data shows that across society and the economy, the UK must do better to level the playing field. The index contains 15 indicators, and here are five of them:
- More than one in five people are living in poverty, whilst the richest fifth of households own almost two thirds of the country’s wealth.
- Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are 18 months behind their peers by the time they take their GCSEs.
- FTSE 100 CEOs earn 79 times more than their average employee.
- Some people earning £10m a year pay the same tax rate (21%) as someone on £30k.
- The richest 10% enjoy 18.5 more years of healthy life than the poorest 10%.
As well as exploring the nature of these issues through statistics, the index also tries to explain why these ‘gaps’ or inequalities have come about, and what their consequences are, and how they interact with and reinforce each other. In other words, how and why they are unfair. It does this by setting out a set of key arguments – 33 of them – such as ‘high levels of inequality lead to low levels of social mobility’, ‘people from poorer backgrounds do less well at school’, ‘many high earners are paid unreasonably large amounts of money’. Each argument in this ‘substance’ section summarises and links to published reports and articles written by experts.
We wanted to understand what assumptions people have about some of the gaps covered in our index, and how their views about fairness might change when confronted with the truth. In polling, our partners at More in Common and Public First asked one group for their ‘gut feeling’ on how fair society is now, with 39 per cent saying they thought it was unfair. They showed a second group the stats from the Fairness Index and then asked the same question. This time 66 per cent thought society was unfair – 27 per cent more than the first group. The biggest swings were among older age groups, people in lower socio-economic grades, and Conservative or Leave voters.
We have to fix the broken markets that trap people in poverty, deny them opportunities, reward them inconsistently, undermine the social contract, and fail to treat people equitably.
Rather than compensating for the hurdles that face people growing up in disadvantage, we should dismantle them. There are a wide range of evidence-based, practical ways to do this, but we have chosen to focus on three key market failures that need to be fixed: making jobs better, making the essentials affordable, and taxing wealth better.
How to use the index
The Fairness Index is aimed at a general audience, but is also designed to help social change organisations to build support for their goals by explaining how and why the problems that they seek to address are unfair.
You can browse the index in several ways:
- Browse the content by section (statistics, substance, stories, surveys and solutions), filtering by fair necessity
- Browse the indicators, key messages and context by fair necessity
- Browse the indicators or the context alone, or alongside the relevant arguments (substance articles)
- Start with the foreword to get some perspective
- Dive into one section of the index, looking across all five fair necessities: statistics, substance, stories, surveys, and solutions
- View all relevant content filtered by thematic issue (education, health, taxation and so on)
- Read the appendices
Please share the word on Twitter
How fair is the UK? @fairnessfdn have published the #fairnessindex, a new online tool to explain the nature, causes and consequences of key inequalities in the UK. Find out more at https://www.fairness.org.uk
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