UN Human Development Report: UK most unequal Western country

The United Nations Development Programme, which published the Human Development Report, said last week: “The United Kingdom, unfortunately, has an exceptionally high degree of inequality.”

The report shows that the poorest 40 per cent of Britons share a lower proportion of the national wealth – 14.6 per cent – than in any other Western country. This is only marginally better than in Russia, the only industrialised nation, east or west, to have a worse record. Measurements of the gap between rich and poor tell a similar story. The richest fifth of Britons enjoy, on average, incomes 10 times as high as the poorest fifth. Britain ties for the worst performance by this yardstick among Western nations with Australia. That country was run for more than a decade by a Labor government which has heavily influenced the policies of Tony Blair. …

The British poor are much better off in absolute terms than the poor in most Third World countries, but they are worse off than those in other Western nations. The poorest fifth of Britons have an average per capita income 32 per cent lower than their equivalents in the US and 44 per cent lower than in the Netherlands. …

Comparison with earlier Human Development Reports shows that inequality is growing fast in Britain. The 1991 report ranks Britain around the middle of industrialised countries both for the share of national income that went to the poorest two fifths of the population (17.3 per cent) and for the gap between the richest and the poorest fifth (6.8 times).

UK most unequal country in the West