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Spread opportunity and prosperity to everyone in the UK

Last updated: 08:44pm 11 December 2019

We are ambitious for everyone in Britain and will leave no-one behind in our efforts to spread opportunity and prosperity throughout the United Kingdom.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.32

Our verdict

The UK is one of the richest countries in the world by gross domestic product. Despite that wealth, an Office for National Statistics article on persistent poverty, published in June 2019, highlights some startling facts:

  • In 2017, 7.8% of the population were in persistent poverty, equivalent to roughly 4.7 million people.
  • In the same year, 2.4 million working people were in poverty

This policy is a promise to “leave no-one behind in our efforts to spread opportunity and prosperity”. To meet that objective, we would expect to see declining levels of poverty resulting from government efforts.

Governments generally don’t like to talk about poverty unless there is a good story to tell. Indeed, on the “Poverty and social justice” pages of the government’s website, we couldn’t find an overarching strategy focused exclusively on tackling poverty in the population as a whole. Ministers would no doubt counter that their entire Industrial Strategy is, in effect, a poverty reduction strategy and that policies aimed at, for example, good stewardship of the economy, or at establishing protections for workers in unstable or low-paid jobs, are the most effective way to spread opportunity and prosperity. The government is working on those fronts – to maintain and strengthen the overall economy and to provide some degree of security for the less well off in society (see “Related Policies” below), but we are seeking evidence of no-one being left behind.

Poverty levels are notoriously hard to measure, but a House of Commons Library briefing paper published near the end of the government’s time in office outlined significant numbers of households below average income and said:

“Projections produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Resolution Foundation suggest that the share of children in relative low income will increase over the next few years…”

The promised opportunity and prosperity is unlikely to reach those children and their families without further action from future governments. This policy, then, will remain ‘in progress’.

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Related Policies

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