13 Sep 2010

Call for Fairness Test

Back in August I wrote to our new MP, Neil Carmichael, about the importance of income equality - see my letter here. Well a copy of Theresa May's response is copied left (click to enlarge).

I have to say I was not impressed with Theresa's response. Below is my letter back to Neil written before the Guardian headline on Friday that said: "Coalition cuts will hit poor 10 times harder than rich, says TUC - Pensioners and single parents take brunt of government 'betrayal' of election promise of fair budget cutbacks."


I have now received a copy of Theresa May's letter to Neil regarding income equality. I welcome that she sees it as an important issue and wants a fairer Britain but the evidence strongly indicates that the recent budget was not good news.

The respected think-tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed its earlier preliminary finding that the net effect of the changes will be regressive and that the poorest will be hardest hit. The government has responded by saying its plans for economic recovery and, in particular, the drive to move people from welfare to work have not been factored in by the IFS. But this response begs questions about the strength of the recovery and what sort of jobs people will be taking (if they can get them), how secure they are and how much they pay.

PM David Cameron said in November last year in his Hugo Young Lecture: "We all know, in our hearts, that as long as there is deep poverty living systematically side by side with great riches, we all remain the poorer for it."

Closing the gap between rich and poor is the key to improving our society for all. I am not convinced Cameron has understood what is needed. I hope Neil will continue to take an interest in this area.

In particular he might like to push for the Fairness Test when tackling the deficit. This was requested before the election by a large group of charities. A Fairness Test would be a comprehensive equality impact assessment of every tax rise and spending cut, to ensure that it did not impact more heavily on the poorest. More info at: http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/fairnesstest

All the best - Philip

Also I sit and write this I see a TUC analysis of departmental spending found that some of the UK's poorest families have been hit by more than 100 unfair spending cuts during the first 100 days of the new Government - see here. Similarly a report in The Guardian says 400,000 of our most vulnerable will be hit hardest if the Treasury carries out its threat to lop 40% from the £1.6bn government support programme, 'Supporting People' - see here. There are many other examples.

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