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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 in which certain individuals or small groups 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 skill-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 de-skilling 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. We believe that the future lies in the shaping of a genuinely social market which would be in consequence a genuinely free and open market. Internalising 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. The viable transformative solutions lie beyond the purview of the current visions of both left and right in the UK.
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.
The financial crash of 2008 exposed Britain’s economic settlement 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.
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 assetrich 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. Unjustified by merit and result, but owing all to the leverage that built-in market advantage delivers, we are rapidly creating an economic serfdom that we thought long abolished.
Fork in the Road: Maximising the Economic Opportunity of Britain’s Food and Drink Industry outlines why the food and drink sector must be given due focus and with commensurate support,...Download as PDF
Air Necessities: Place-based approaches to a pollution crisis sets out how cities all over the country can take the lead in tackling air pollution caused by road traffic. Air pollution,...Download as PDF
Published: 17 November 2016Launched on November 17th, Going to Scale sets out how government can meet Britain’s housing challenge and deliver the homes that are desperately needed around the country. It proposes a...Download as PDF
ResPublica’s latest report, Ticket to Ride: How high speed rail for Liverpool can realise the Northern Powerhouse, radically argues for an innovative local funding mechanism to finance a high speed...Download as PDF
ResPublica’s new report, Make or Break: Why Britain needs a manufacturing resurgence and how we can help it to take place, sets out how Britain can better help manufacturing contribute...Download as PDF
Published: 05 October 2015Unfinished Business: The ownership agenda, thirty years on, is a ResPublica Essay published on Monday 5th October 2015 by ResPublica and trade body Co-operatives UK. It finds that more people...Download as PDF
ResPublica is developing a vision for a place-based industrial strategy that addresses the UK’s regional productivity problem, and responds to competitiveness challenges post-Brexit. Working in...
ResPublica is examining whether Britain’s models of corporate governance are delivering for the country and for business. There is growing concern that short-term decision-making is...