Gap grows between the rich and poor

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INEQUALITY of wealth in the UK is at its highest level since before the Second World War, a social sciences expert from The University of Sheffield says.

Professor Danny Dorling of the university’s geography department is an expert in inequality, and says the richest one per cent of people in the UK take home 15 per cent of all income - compared to six per cent in 1979.

Prof Dorling said: “If we look back about 100 years, we can see inequality in the UK did drop significantly in the 70 years from 1910 to 1979. More than half of that drop in inequality took place prior to 1939. But since 1979 these inequalities have risen dramatically, and continue to rise.

“The last time the best-off people took as big a share of all income as they do today was in 1940.”

Prof Dorling added: “Even looking at the next most well-off people, the gap between them and the richest is growing.

“In the early 1940s, the ‘nine per cent’ - the rest of the best-off ten per cent minus the richest one per cent - were paid an average salary of 2.4 times average incomes, the same as in 1959, 1969 and 1973.

“But, as inequalities rose, by 1990 this ‘nine per cent’ were paid three times average incomes and that continued until 2007.

“However, for the last five years their share has been dropping towards that 2.4 historic average.

“As each year passes, and the richest one per cent get richer still, the rest of the best-off 10 per cent increasingly have a little more in common with the remaining nine-tenths of society, and less and less in common with those at the very top.”

He added: “Inequalities are complex statistics, but the harm that comes from living with the consequences of great inequality is often more easily understood.

“What may not be so well appreciated is how recently the divide between just one per cent of people and the remainder has rapidly grown to be so stark - and how more people are all in it together as a consequence.”