Labour’s taxes have cut the income gap

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Labour's tax and benefits strategy has closed the income gap, thinktank says | Politics | The Guardian .

Everyone is focussing on the Institute for Fiscal Studies comments on the budget this morning. So will I in due course.

Now let's note what they have said on Labour's tax policy:

An increase in taxes on the wealthiest households has been matched by an increase in benefits for the poorest, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said today following a long-term study of Labour's impact on incomes since 1997.

The poorest 10% of households gained by 13% while at the same time the richest 10% saw their incomes cut by almost 9%. When households earning more than £100,000 were treated as a separate category, the figures showed they faced tax rises that cut their incomes by 15%.

That's great news.

But there's bad to follow:

Only Singapore, the US and Portugal have more income inequality, according to UN figures. It says the richest 20% in the UK are seven times better off than the poorest 20%, while in Japan the richest 20% are only 3.5 times richer.

Overall that means we have a massively unequal society.

As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have shown, unequal societies always do badly.

The answer is we need a High Pay Commission, increases in taxes on the best off, and more support for those living in poverty to ensure they can break out of its grip.

Sticking plasters won't do. Real reform is needed. And that means a change in the structure of the UK economy and society. Back to 2005 won't do: banking created this inequity. We have to replace it as the core of our policy and we have to esnure that the jobs, wealth and opportunity we generate are better spread.

Nothing else will do.

And if that means state provided capital for change, so be it. the rewards will be high.