Alison Thewlis SNP MP

UK Suffers From Worst Inequality in Western Europe

The SNP has said “independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts” that will entrench poverty – as new analysis reveals the UK suffers from the worst inequality in North West Europe.

The analysis from the House of Commons Library reveals the UK has had the worst inequality of any country in North West Europe for every year where figures are available in the 21st century.

The analysis, using the Gini coefficient, also reveals that countries with populations similar to, or smaller than, Scotland are on average far better than the UK and better than the average for all north western European neighbours.

The research is supported by previous studies, including a 2016 report by Oxfam, which found the accumulated wealth of Britain’s richest 1% is more than 20 times the total of the poorest fifth, and concluded “the UK is one of the most unequal developed countries in the world”.

In May, an IPPR report revealed the poverty rate among working households in the UK has reached a record high this century – with an increase in relative poverty from 13% of working households in 1996 to 17.4% in March 2020.

The report revealed the situation has steadily deteriorated since the Tories came to power in 2010, with one in six working households now living in poverty.

It comes as the Tory government plans a return to austerity cuts, slashing Universal Credit payments by £1040 a year from October and imposing a public sector pay freeze – threatening to entrench poverty and inequality across the UK.

Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The UK is already one of the most unequal countries in the developed world – and Tory austerity cuts will entrench poverty and inequality even further.

“Scotland is increasingly vulnerable under Westminster control.

“It’s clear that independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts and build a strong, fair and equal recovery.

“Boris Johnson has no intention of delivering a fair recovery.

“Instead Tory plans to slash Universal Credit by £1040 a year and impose a public sector pay freeze, while pursuing a hard Brexit, will hammer millions of families who are already struggling to get by – and make the UK even more unfair and unequal.

“Coronavirus has exposed the deep inequalities that exist under the broken Westminster system – with in work poverty now at the highest levels this century.

“Instead of tackling poverty, the Tories are making it even worse with cuts to household incomes, which will undermine the progress being made in Scotland – by cancelling out the benefits of the Scottish Child Payment.

“The evidence shows that independent countries of Scotland’s size, or smaller, are consistently more equal than the UK.

“By becoming an independent country, with full powers over employment, social security and the economy, Scotland can be more successful and better off – just like our European neighbours.”