How can we redress unfairness and structural inequity?
Covid-19 is not a "great leveller" - the impacts of the pandemic and economic shutdown have not been evenly shared. Early evidence showed that the effects have largely played out along existing lines of inequality. This means that people living in the most deprived areas of the UK are more likely to face extreme financial pressure as a result of Covid-19, they are also twice as likely to die from the disease.
Without an active plan to mitigate unequal health and economic impacts future waves of the virus could further deepen the “old and deep inequalities" at the heart of the UK economy, with potentially lasting effects. Lower earners, women and black and minority ethnic (BME) are more likely to have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, adding to existing economic disadvantage.
High levels of inequality exacerbate the spread and fatality of the virus, exemplifying how inequality can leave our society more vulnerable to crises. A more equal recovery would not only make our economy fairer, but more resilient too.
Analysis from IPPR North has highlighted how the UK is "more regionally divided than any comparable advanced economy". This regional inequality exists across disposable income, productivity, employment, and political power.
The UK has long suffered from regional health inequalities. Even before Covid-19 people in the most deprived areas could expect to live nineteen fewer years in good health than those in the most well-off. The death rate from Covid-19 in the UK’s poorest regions was over double the rate in the wealthiest.
The economic fallout of Covid-19 threatens to increase regional inequalities. The fall in hours worked in London in the early months of the pandemic was significantly less pronounced than in other regions of the UK. The Government’s regionally tiered lockdown approach drew widespread criticism - ranging from progressive civil society leaders to Conservative MPs - for their impact on regional divisions.