Socio Economic Inequalities England


It is so sad that the socio-economic division in the UK has been on the rise over the last couple of years, and has escalated since the onset of the worldwide financial crisis. Socio-economic inequalities are usually viewed in terms of income gap, gender inequality, social class, and healthcare. Rising and high levels of inequality are disastrous to the society and economy in general as it hampers social cohesion and lost chances for lots of people. Worse of it all is that inequality could lower the levels of trust within institutions and thus propel both political and social instabilities in numerous ways. For instance, inequality could generate differing perceptions of injustice as it is sophisticated for trust to develop in others if they are seen as having unfair advantages over their counterparts. This policy brief report will seek to provide an in-depth insight on the aforementioned aspects and more specifically address social-economic inequalities in England.


The UK and health inequalities

The Labour government came into power in 1997 and one of the stated aims was reducing health inequalities in the UK. Having this in mind, Sir Donald Acheson was commissioned in producing a report on the matter and it wasn’t a surprise when it discovered that the inequalities in health had a strong link to wealth inequalities. Social and economic policies were major determinants of this than the policy on healthcare. Less than a decade ago, the matter was revisited after the Department of Health being mandated on publishing a health report. Though it was an excellent document, less tangible evidence wasn’t available in showing the progress on the matter.

It is unarguable that the widening gap has been on the rise between the men in the highest and lowest socio-economic groups. However, the government has had a dozen of years to work on the issue but hasn’t. Precisely, it is due to the economic policy stipulated by the government in helping the very wealthy while at the same time putting little efforts in helping the poor via wealth redistribution, purposely on a regional perspective. This strategy is a flaw and hasn’t helped at all in addressing underlying claims for poverty, putting unnecessary pressure on the middle-income earners.

According to the British Journal of General Practice published in 2009, Peter Mandelson made a famous quote citing that the New Labour was highly getting reluctant regarding the people getting filthy rich. Tony Blair (the then British Prime Minister), publicly stated that constraining the earning muscles of the Premiership players wasn’t part of his job description. Undoubtedly, the economic policy has only been beneficial to the rich. The high wages of the show business and sports legends are common knowledge. However, with A-listeners in the small thousands at most, the figures are so minor in influencing the broader economy.

Despite the efforts on the redistributive strategy, the UK has continued to be highly polarized nation. This has had adverse effects on the social cohesion and will with no doubt worsen if the general economy continues to do so (as expected). The social and health issues of the less fortunate in the population are obvious but it is at the top rank that the social apartheid has happened. Just one generation ago in the UK, the wealthy areas weren’t only reserved for the rich, but the middle-class professionals also had a chance. However, this is not the case today, these places are only reserved for the rich. No teacher, nurse, vicar, university academic, dentist or doctor (not unless owning a substantial private practice) can afford to live in such high-end places. The impact this could have on the next generation is more worrying.

Inequality in the British Schools

It is so worrying that class inequalities within the British schools are still a current issue and show little signs of decrease. All through the education stages, the working-class students are at a disadvantage in comparison to their middle, and upper-class peers. According to a 2010 Triennial review, 35% of eligible pupils for FSM (Free school meals) attained good development levels in comparison to 55% of the pupils lacking the eligibility for FSMs. Students coming from lower social classes lack enough cultural capital that would make it possible for them to advance in education . This can be argued on the basis that it is this cultural capital that enables the students get better access and succeed in the education system. Students in eligible for the FSM are more likely to get good GCSE grades than those that aren’t.

Probably what makes socio-economic class so divisive is when it comes to educational achievement in which transmission of cultural capital is through the home. Cultural capital is a mechanism via which families in the higher social class put measures to ensure educational advantage for their kids. This then means that the system of education only rewards those accredited cultural capital by their family unit or parents in paving way for them to get academic credentials without so much effort but doesn’t grant cultural capital to those students coming from lower socio-economic classes. Thus, in this sense, the current British education system has failed in giving explicitly that which implicitly necessitates of any one person.

Ethnicity in the British education system

Ethnicity is another major lens that requires investigation when it comes to inequality in the British schools . London has higher proportion of non-white population of British ethnicity. A major difference is evident in realizing achievements in academics between different ethnic groups. For instance, in obtaining 5+ proper GCSEs is stark bringing about three unique groups; Chinese (72%), Indian (67%), then White British, Black Africans and Bangladeshi (51%). But why the case? The American Sociological Review journal published in 2013 by Cecilia L. Ridgeway affirms that the British system of education is designed in reproducing and legitimizing unequal outcomes. This can be likened to the Marxist aspect on education whereby schools seem to advertise meritocracy but maintain dominant societal ideologies and proceed to covertly steer the young generation in down class careers thus fueling inequalities in the system of education.

Maintaining policies on immigration too much to expect

The impact on the quality of every citizen’s life in the UK of the burgeoning population is extra high and this is an issue that concerns the great majority of the residents in the UK. The Migration UK Report published on 17th April 2019 by Alp Mehmet noted that a whopping 64% of the members of the public told YouGov that the projected rise in the population by close to 7 million in 2041 was quite high and the citizens should be worried that this could lead to increase in social-economic inequalities. Immigration levels in England over the past decade approximate to 250,000 and can be claimed as the primary reason for rapid population growth in the UK. This has translated into more road congestion and increased pressure on transportation.

Transforming school exclusion

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) on the July 2018 report provided an alternative in transforming school exclusion. The CSJ is an independent body that performs studies on the social problems facing Britain then addresses them via recommendations on workable and practical policy interventions. A proportion of the most vulnerable pupils in the society in the UK are being cast to peripheral visions in which their prospects in life are a hostage to fortune. Around 1.1% of the pupils who finish their GCSEs in alternative provision (AP) attain proper GCSE passes. Close to half of the pupils don’t advance to sustained destinations with 58% of young adults totally getting excluded from school.

Difficulties in learning, personal trauma, adverse emotional issues; are some of the wide sweep of situations that the pupils in AP might probably face. Worryingly, pupils with special needs in education are close to 6% more likely in facing permanent exclusion from school. The poor outcomes of these learners are at times the culmination of years of complexity and personal challenges that are yet to be resolved . And the by time these pupils are leaving the mainstream education, they are already facing struggles. It is therefore critical that the outcomes be read deeply and if a successful redress is to take place then the whole system be revised.

Well-structured AP could be appropriate and furthermore, transformational for the pupils requiring specialist support. It ought to be viewed as an integral component of the system of education and not as a peripheral adjunct. However, the sector faces considerable challenges. There lacks clear and commonly known framework. The sector of AP has lots of inspiring and gifted teachers but faces serious challenges in recruitment. There are two major recommendations that could work out; schools ought to show accountability and responsibility for the excluded with funds being adequately devolved in supporting the vulnerable pupils early enough, and the government could ring-fence the available devolved funding.

Social needs, problems, welfare, and well-being

Nick Manning in the book “The student’s companion to social policy” published in 2012 made an explicit account on social needs, social problems, social welfare and well-being. Whereby he echoed the words of Maslow (in the hierarchy of needs) stating that the social needs come after the basic and safety needs have been fulfilled. Some examples of social needs are love, affection and relationships. Social problems affect the whole society in general such as violence, drug abuse and environmental problems. Social welfare involves government support to its citizens for instance on healthcare, housing and unemployment compensation. Well-being looks at the broader picture of the citizens being comfortable, happy and healthy.

The British social welfare has had a long history. Dates back close to a century ago when the Beveridge Report of 1942 made a proposal for the coming up of a National Insurance that would aid in addressing the needs of the poorest and oppressed in the society. Its aim was on airing some keys issues such as health, social security and housing. This would be based on three fundamental elements; first, guarantees of minimum standard for the citizens in the bid of ensuring that social equality is available to all the state’s citizens; secondly, social protection that aimed at bringing the sense of security to all the citizens and more especially address the aspect of the rich exploiting the poor; and thirdly provision of services at the most appropriate levels. The state is responsible for availing the basic services to the citizens regardless of the level of income and gender. Therefore, it has the duty of ensuring access to the primary services that the citizens require for survival.

Contemporary issues and the British Welfare state

As of late, there are lots of issues that have been noted in the British Welfare state that have a direct link to the nation’s failure. This can be attributed to the state’s failure in putting in place policies that aid in addressing the needs of the citizens as expected. These contemporary issues (such as social class, discrimination of immigrants, gender inequality) are matters the state should have addressed long ago but hasn’t. The most effective way that could be used in airing some of these issues is looking at the primary cause of the contemporary problem. Inequality is obviously evident and is not only vested on the income levels but also on the accessibility to state resources. This brings us back to the issue of political representation in UK.

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The current political system has it that areas that aren’t well represented politically don’t have much say and accessibility to resources as those that are well represented. Most regions inhabited by people without British originality face poor representation in the political arena. One among the major inequalities is healthcare just as was previously noted. As per the Journal of Social Policy by the Cambridge Press, health care can directly be attributed to demographic inequality. The journal gave a precise account of how regions that have adequate political representation access health care at ease while those areas with poor political representation are rotting.


The weight of the evidence from the above paragraphs clearly reveals socio-economic inequality in the UK and even though the state is putting efforts to bring this to an end, still a lot has to be worked on to close the visible gaps leading to inequality. The inequality has apparently been the primary cause of issues discussed above and even most others that the society is facing as we speak.

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