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The UK has some of the highest levels of wealth concentration in the developed world. It has an economy where most mature markets are dominated by a small number of players and the barriers to entry are far too high. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that in many areas, from energy to banking to groceries, the UK has a monopolistic rentier rather than a market economy – a system which allows small groups to gain market dominance and excessive returns through anti-competitive practices.
This conspires against innovation and is detrimental to the small and emergent businesses that generate growth and spread prosperity. Added to this, our education system, by specialising too early and often in the wrong areas, fails to produce students with fully rounded skills-sets. We are simply not equipping our future workforce with the means to safeguard our, and their, economic future. This is one reason why the real value of wages in proportion to growth in GDP continues to stagnate or fall. Our long-term productivity dilemma is a function of market capture and the effective deskilling of the population.
We believe that shared prosperity cannot be achieved by simply tweaking the market. Britain needs significant demand and supply side transformation, with new visionary institutions re-ordering our economy. We need long-term solutions that give power over wealth and assets, not simply handouts, to ordinary people. Central to this process of economic empowerment is an ethical, practical and adaptable education that gives people the skills to build their own businesses, or develop their own talents, rather than a conveyor belt to a service industry of low wage and less return. New financial institutions to promote small business lending are required, and this involves smaller, more specialised and decentralised banks that can deliver advice as well as capital. We wish to explore ways in which all financial transactions can be linked to a wider social purpose and profit, which itself needs a transformation of the legal framework within which economic transactions take place. The future lies in the shaping of a genuinely social market which would be in consequence a genuinely free and open market. Pricing in externalities and creating a level economic playing field in terms of tax paid and monopolies recognised and challenged, remains beyond the scope of contemporary governments to deliver. Such a vision requires new concepts. Again the viable transformative solutions here lie beyond the purview of the current visions of both left and right in the UK.
The financial crash of 2008 exposed the economic settlement that Britain had relied on as fundamentally broken. Inquiries undertaken immediately after the crisis exposed a culture in the banking industry that revered short-term profiteering over long-term national prosperity, and vastly overestimated the real-world accuracy of mathematical modelling, whilst ignoring the tacit socialising of financial risk.
The past 30 years has seen the deepening concentration of ownership and a widening disparity of outcomes in the UK. Today, the country is divided between the few who are asset-rich and receive exorbitant returns, and the many that have been denied access to meaningful assets while the relative worth of their wages has steadily declined. Recent analysis has put this divide into sharp perspective: the richest 1 per cent own as much in property, pensions and financial assets as the poorest 55 per cent, while this difference is further exacerbated by the ever-widening chasm in income levels.
A key opportunity to break both individuals and communities from various cycles of deprivation lies in securing sustainable work contracts and undergoing personal and professional development that will open up pathways to promotion and engaged compelling work. However, a major skills gap precludes many from entering into the workforce: many businesses are seeking skill-sets that are rare to come by, and many people have rare skill-sets and talent that many businesses do not recognise.
Published: 16 June 2015ResPublica, in partnership with GallifordTry, Peabody, Places for People and Trowers & Hamlins, sets out a radical vision of double devolution to tackle the housing crisis. We are building less...Download as PDF
Published: 23 March 2015We are facing a cold homes crisis. One in every ten households in England are in fuel poverty; 2.28 million homes are struggling to keep warm. Many of those on...Download as PDF
Published: 03 November 2014ResPublica’s report ‘Climbing the Credit Ladder: Short-term loans as a path to long-term credit‘ was launched on Monday 3rd November in Parliament by Cathy Jamieson MP, Shadow Financial Secretary to...Download as PDF
Published: 24 July 2014A new ResPublica publication, launched today, reveals that businesses looking to become energy suppliers face major barriers to entry in the UK. 12 new businesses have entered into the domestic...Download as PDF
Published: 03 February 2014After the events of 2008 and the recession that followed, it was inevitable that this Government would rightly undertake a programme of significant financial reform. The Independent Commission on Banking,...Download as PDF
Published: 10 September 2013ResPublica’s publication The Community Renewables Economy: Starting up, scaling up and spinning out, reveals that community owned energy could grow 89 times its current size if the right national and...Download as PDF
ResPublica, with the support of Age UK, Calor Gas, Orbit group and WM Housing, produced a succinct manifesto-style publication in March 2015 which set out...
Outline Rebalancing the UK’s economy is an attempt to rectify what are seen as damaging economic distortions in Britain’s economic mix. The concept of this...
The Economic Voice profiles ResPublica’s publication ‘Markets for the Many’....
I have been very excited by the way in which the Scottish referendum campaign engaged people in a discussion about feelings of powerlessness and how to regain democratic control over...
The Church of England’s contribution to the controversial debate over payday loan companies has received a good deal of media coverage. This is of course an issue that has troubled...