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UK Most Unequal Country in the West

Big Society

According to a report in the Independent Newspaper in July, a report issued by the United Nations’ Human Development Programme said that Britain is now the most unequal country in the Western world.  The gap between rich and poor is as great as in Nigeria.

Detailed statistics  also demonstrate that inequality has grown sharply during Conservative rule and that the poor in Britain now have to live on much the same incomes as their equivalents in Hungary and Korea.

The Human Development Report, said :

“The United Kingdom, unfortunately, has an exceptionally high degree of inequality.”

The report shows that the poorest 40 per cent of Britons share a lower proportion of the national wealth – 14.6 per cent – than in any other Western country.

This is only marginally better than in Russia, the only industrialised nation, East or West, to have a worse record.

Measurements of the gap between rich and poor tell a similar story.

The richest fifth of Britons enjoy, on average, incomes 10 times as high as the poorest fifth.

Britain ties for the worst performance by this yardstick among Western nations with Australia.  The gap in Britain and Australia is exactly the same as in Nigeria, much worse than in Jamaica, Ghana or the Ivory Coast and twice as bad as in Sri Lanka or Ethiopia.

The Independent report goes on to say:

The British poor are much better off in absolute terms than the poor in most Third World countries, but they are worse off than those in other Western nations. The poorest fifth of Britons have an average per capita income 32 per cent lower than their equivalents in the US and 44 per cent lower than in the Netherlands.

Comparison with earlier Human Development Reports shows that inequality is growing fast in Britain. The 1991 report ranks Britain around the middle of industrialised countries both for the share of national income that went to the poorest two fifths of the population (17.3 per cent) and for the gap between the richest and the poorest fifth (6.8 times).

You can read the full article here.

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