A newly published report commissioned by Oxfam has found a positive correlation between levels of inequality and poverty in the UK. Looking at the period between 1961 and 2015 the report’s authors, a group of academics from the LSE, found that relative poverty rates have tended to be higher when income inequality is higher. This is significant as these phenomena have previously tended to be studied separately.
The report highlights a number of possible mechanisms driving this relationship between inequality and poverty. It argues that; public opinion, voting behaviour, increasing spatial segregation and also the undue influence of elites on government policy all play a role. These factors combined have contributed to a greater concentration of wealth in the hands of a minority and less public spending on low income households.
The report’s findings highlight the importance of combatting inequality as part of any anti-poverty strategy. This has been long term goal of SURF which has argued for the reduction of inequalities and poverty to be a central goal of government policy. The Scottish Government’s recent commitment to implementing a ‘socio-economic duty’ to guide policy at the local and national level, is a step in this direction, and something both Oxfam and SURF have campaigned for.