Britain’s economy needs radical reform – including raising the minimum wage and greater trade union powers – to address stagnating living standards and rising inequality, a major new report has found.
The damning report by the Commission on Economic Justice, which was created by the Institute for Public Policy Research and includes the TUC, the Archbishop of Canterbury, economists and senior business leaders, found that the UK’s economy is “not working”.
The report, which Unite contributed to, said the economy is “no longer delivering rising living standards for a majority of the population” and put forward 73 recommendations to rebalance it.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “For decades the UK economy has not worked as it should, with millions of people and many parts of the country receiving less than their fair share. The widening gulf between rich and poor, and fears about the future among young people and their parents, have damaged our nation’s sense of itself.
“Our report shows that it doesn’t have to be like this. By putting fairness at the heart of the economy, we can make it perform better, improving the lives of millions of people. Achieving prosperity and justice together is not only a moral imperative – it is an economic one.”
The report’s recommendations include creating a national investment bank, putting worker representatives on company boards, greater economic devolution throughout the UK, an increase in corporation tax and tighter regulation for tech giants.
The report also calls for workers to have greater bargaining power “making it easier for trade unions to negotiate on their behalf to achieve higher productivity and to share its rewards fairly through better wages and conditions and reduced working time”.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “It’s time for a once-in-a-generation rethink of our approach to the economy. Working people have had enough of stagnating living standards and massive inequality, and no-one’s buying the idea that there’s no alternative.”
The commission found that the UK is being suppressed by poor rates of investment, low wages and a business class who for decades have overwhelmingly based decisions on short term profit making.
Commenting on the report, Unite leader Len McCluskey said, “We were pleased to have contributed to this report. Surely the clamour for a new approach to the economy can no longer be ignored by the Tories? And trade union rights must be at the heart of a fairer, more equal society.”
McCluskey, along with other trade union leaders, will be speaking at The Fight for a New Deal for Workers fringe next Monday at 12.45pm at the TUC Congress in Manchester.