Over one in three adults admit inequality in Britain is worse than they thought pre-Covid

2020-08-26 11:25:00 +0100

Over one in three adults now believe inequality in Britain to be worse than they had previously thought, polling out today reveals. The survey shows that 39% of people have revised their estimation of the levels of inequality in Britain as a result of the Covid pandemic. 1 in 5 (18%) actually believe inequality to be “much worse” than they had imagined.

The polling, carried out by Opinium in partnership with Compassion in Politics, also reveals that two-thirds (63%) of people agree the government should do more to tackle inequality. This includes half (49%) of Conservative voters with nearly 1 in 5 (22%) Conservative party supporters admitting the government needs to do “much more” to upend inequality. 

The survey also pointed towards one way in which the government might start to reduce inequality: by creating a more supportive and less punitive welfare system. 

More than half (57%) agree that the welfare system should become less punitive than it currently is - including 43% of Conservative voters. Over 1 in 3 (37%) also think that it is “unfair” or “very unfair” for people who have been made unemployed by Covid to now face benefit sanctions. 

Co-Chair of the All Party Group for Compassionate Politics Labour MP Debbie Abrahams said: 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the endemic levels of inequality in Britain and this survey shows that the public agree that much more urgent action is needed to tackle it. We cannot continue with business as usual - with a system that left black and ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities and those living in deprived communities ruinously exposed to the dangers of Covid. With this context, I believe the time is right for an urgent inquiry into the role of the welfare state, and especially the adequacy of social security, in reducing the widening inequality in Britain. We must remember how the welfare state was established after the Second World War. In exposing the extent of our inequalities, the Coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity to reset how our society operates, where our welfare state enables everyone to live healthy lives.

Co-Director of Compassion in Politics Jennifer Nadel said:

“Compassion in Politics exists to push, persuade, and cajole governments into taking a more compassionate, inclusive, and cooperative approach. This is most important and most badly needed when it comes to people’s livelihoods, their health, and their wellbeing. This survey shows that Covid has helped people become more aware of the suffering of others and with that more willing to support measures aimed at reducing that suffering, tackling inequality, and ending poverty. Government should take note. Very few get the opportunity to redesign the economy but Covid has afforded that chance to this administration. Their priorities must now be the public’s health and wellbeing and making good their commitment to “level up” the national economy.”

Grantley White, Senior Research Executive for Opinium, said:
“COVID-19 has created a huge economic and social shock in the UK, laying bare the long-standing inequalities already in existence and bringing them to the surface in ways we’ve not seen before. Where most have fortunately had the savings and a secure job to fall back on, millions on lower incomes and in precarious work have faced the very real threat of losing their livelihoods and homes due to COVID-19, with no solid safety net to shield them from the flagging economy and the unknown aftershocks we’re yet to experience for the remainder of 2020.
“The public are looking to the government to protect those in the most vulnerable positions, and our research shows this appetite stretches across the political spectrum.”

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