A new study from University College London has warned that the UK is characterised by ‘extreme’ inequalities both between and within cities and regions.
The UCL report, entitled Structurally Unsound, found that women, working class, ethnic minority and disabled groups often face multiple disadvantages affecting their educational outcomes, employment prospects, home ownership, health and life expectancy.
It also shows that there is a ‘clear link’ between income inequality and housing, with low income groups much less likely to own their own home, which results in the relative housing costs they face being much higher.
The UK is also marked by ‘extreme geographical and spatial inequalities’ between and within cities and regions, according to the UCL study. The healthy life span for people in the most deprived areas of Scotland, for example, is 22 years less than those living in the least deprived areas.
Dr Olivia Stevenson, head of public policy at UCL and the report’s author said: ‘The UK has a deep-set and entrenched level of structural inequality and the UK Government has a powerful role to play in addressing this.
‘Current instruments being used in Government to measure inequality are not ambitious enough. We have a patchwork of policy, rather than a comprehensive fabric for policy delivery.
‘Instead of merely focusing on compliance, they must consider issues of multiple disadvantage and come up with a bold new strategy, working collaboratively across Government departments and with businesses and the public sector.’
Jane Brophy, Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West, commented: ‘No-one wins from rising regional inequality, least of all those who continue to struggle in already-tough times.
‘It's clear that more has to be done to tackle the higher rate of drinking, smoking, and obesity across the North, but the increasing rate of suicide among young people in the North is just shattering.
‘Inequality exists everywhere but report after report, study after study and statistic after statistic show it is always the North that gets hit hardest. When will this Government wake up, get a grip on the North/South divide and take action to look after us?’?