Monday, 29 March 2010

Brent Needs the Green Party's Equality Policies

from 'The impact of income inequalities on sustainable development in London' a report for the London Sustainable Development Commission by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett of the The Equalities Trust. PDF of the report HERE

A key report concludes this month that:

  • Economic growth has ceased to be a reliable source of higher standards of wellbeing. Many countries achieve levels of life expectancy similar to Britain but at a fraction of our levels per capita  of national income and emissions.

  • The high rates of many social problems in London, and Britain more widely, are directly attributable to the scale of inequality and would be reduced if inequality was decreased.

  • This means that future improvements to the quality of life now depend more on narrowing income differences than on economic growth.

  • The pressure to consume is substantially increased by inequality because inequality increases status competition.

  • The achievement of a low carbon, sustainable society depends on people's willingness to act for the common good. Greater equality strengthens community life, public spiritedness, and trust while weakening individual status competition.

  • Tackling inequality and climate changes requires a change in mind-set away from anti-social consumerism and instead an ethos where wework together to improve the quality of the social and natural environment.
The full report goes into much more detail about the benefits of greater equality and is at pains to point out that the benefits would not only be for the poorer section of the population but for everyone. The table above shows the impact for London as a whole.  Elsewhere in the document figures show that with greater equality Brent would almost halve its incidence of mental illness, sharply reduce teenage pregnancies and reduce the level of obesity (currently the third highest in London).

As Brent Green Party's spokesperson on Children, Families and Schools, and a school governor, I was struck by the graph based on Unicef research that shows the UK's position on children's wellbeing/income inequality.
All this makes the Green Party's redistributive policies absolutely central in tackling social and climate change problems.  In creating a more equal society we will be giving ourselves important weapons to tackle issues that threaten us all.

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