Equitable version

While it might be true that 
income inequality has fallen by more than in any year since the data series began in 1960 (Perspective, 19 March), no one living “at the bottom” would share in Paul Johnson’s enthusiasm about how “remarkably equitable” the 
recession has been so far.

Warnings this week that food banks – which are, as the Trussell Trust revealed, even in the richest areas of the UK – will struggle to cope with new demand when the UK Government’s welfare reforms come into force next month, starkly illustrate the fine line trod by many people on lower incomes when even a small drop in income (even if it’s proportionately smaller than the reductions suffered by people on middle and high incomes) can make the difference between putting food on the table for their families or not.

In any recession people’s salaries will be squeezed and income gaps will close, so the reality is that we’re not actually addressing the real income inequalities in our society.

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It’s simply that all our income is getting squeezed by the recession because, as Johnson points out, if real wages do actually begin to rise in the future inequality will start to grow again.

This means that the big issue in all of this is that if we don’t change our economic model that lets the richest in society continue to take a bigger share of the cake, while most people who are on middle and low incomes are getting poorer, we will have all the ingredients for a deep economic and social disaster on our hands.

We need urgently to rethink and reform the structure of the UK and Scottish economies.

And many well-respected economic commentators have pointed out that a budget with giveaways here and little boosts to key interest groups there doesn’t work and won’t make a difference to the economic growth or the very real and continuing 
inequalities in our society.

John Downie

Scottish Council for 
Voluntary Organisations

Mansfield Place