Inequality: Is the gap between rich and poor in the UK fair?

Is the gap between rich and poor in the UK fair?

The soaring cost of living is raising questions about the gap between rich and poor. As prices have been forced up by global events, including the war in Ukraine, families on low incomes, who spend most of their money on basics, have been hit hard. In the last year, more than two million people in the UK turned to food banks. Stories of parents forced to choose between food and warmth, or skipping meals so their children can eat, have become common. Can the UK, one of the richest countries in the world, morally justify millions of its people relying on charity just to keep their children warm and fed?

The wealthiest ten per cent of households own 43% of the country’s wealth, so is it naïve to suggest that the poorest should get more help and the richest should pay for it? The recently announced windfall tax on energy companies was an extraordinary moment: cash taken from big companies and handed to their customers. Is it time for more of this? Or are Robin Hood taxes, taking money from people who have earned it and handing it to people who haven’t, essentially unfair? Isn't wealth inequality the very driver of human effort? We work, so we can become better off. Remove that incentive, and what happens to economic growth, on which we all rely? What is the case for redistributing the nation’s wealth? Is it immoral to accumulate enormous personal wealth? Or is it acceptable for some people to become fantastically rich, provided that nobody is truly poor?

Producers: Jonathan Hallewell and Peter Everett
Presenter: Michael Buerk