Whatever happened to Theresa May’s ‘burning injustices’?

The Resolution Foundation - one of the UK’s leading economic think tanks - has taken a look at the burning injustices Theresa May promised to tackle two years ago when she became Prime Minister. And the results aren’t good.

Back in 2016, when May was being lauded as a political genius by much of the press, she attempted to ‘park her tank’ on Labour’s lawn in her first speech, by listing the burning injustices that her government would tackle: Health inequality, race discrimination, social mobility, the gender pay gap, the cost of living, and falling home ownership.

Torsten Bell, the resolution foundation director has looked over the figures since May took office.

On health inequality, he found that age of death gap is has started to grow again, after narrowing significantly between 1997 and 2010.

On race discrimination, the story is slow progress overall, but with a worsening wage gap for black men and women in the labour market. The Lammy Review has found that BAME people make up a quarter of prisoners, despite making up only 14 per cent of the overall population.

The government has made two positive steps in terms of social mobility - raising the threshold at which student loans are repaid - and losing their ability to introduce new grammar schools at the 2017 election - something we can surely give May credit for. Apart from that, little progress has been made.

The gender pay gap has fallen, and gender pay gap reporting has been a big success. Bell gives May full points for this, and praises the national living wage as mostly aiding women in low paid work.

The picture on homeownership is more glum, as rates have continued to fall, while the number of people renting privately has shot up. Insecure work continues to be rife, though may have plateaued. But with 1 million people in zero hours contracts, that’s a very painful plateau.

It’s on living costs where May’s failure really shines through. A combination of push-cost inflation as a result of Brexit with benefit freezes inherited from George Osborne has created a bleak picture of rising living costs and flatlining wages.

So, only one one out of seven of May’s ‘burning injustices’ can we really talk about significant progress. On others, there’s either been no progress at all, or things have started to go backwards.

You can read the Resolution Foundation’s full report here.

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