Our inequal society
It is hardly surprising that we are governed by a coalition of the wealthy and privileged when you consider that this is a culmination of a process that has seen wealth tilt towards a very small percentage at the top of society.
Figures this week reveal, startlingly, that the wealth of Britain’s five richest families is more than the combined worth of the poorest 20 per cent of the population.
A report by Oxfam (‘A tale of Two Britains’) reveals the glaring inequalities and how they have worsened in recent times. But it is not just this glaring contrast between the very poorest and very richest that will always be with us but the fact that this concentration of such great wealth in the hands of so few is at a time of considerable stress and cost of living difficulties for middle earners as well.
I’m not sure what the political solutions are to these vast inequalities of wealth and I’m not in favour of forcible redistribution and punitive taxation, yet it is clear that something has to be done to ensure that the economy is rebalanced away from an over-reliance on property and financial services.
This is neither a left wing nor a right wing concern. The greatest injustices that we can see today are to do with inequalities, debts, the erosion of self-responsibility and the failure of mass education. These are inevitably complex issues that the Church of England should be looking at carefully. In these challenging times we stand on the edge of opportunity like that of the early 1980s. The plight of the inner cities were ever more pressing and the Church of England responded with a serious and in-depth theologically-informed study of problem, in the form of Faith in the City.
Surely it is time for the Church of England to form a similar commission to examine inequality and debt at a time of enormous social and economic change.