If you’re among one of the upper three-fifths of UK society you’re better off now than you were before 2010. But those in the bottom two-fifths are worse off despite nearly eight years of economic growth, according to this chart from the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane:
The chart was published as part of a speech Haldane gave at Port Talbot, Wales, in which he described how his thinking about economic inequality in the UK has changed since the 2008 crisis.
Port Talbot, of course, is dominated by the Tata steel plant which is on the verge of closing down. The closure will devastate the local economy if a rescue plan isn’t found.
Haldane said that “typically, the Bank’s regional visits have tended to focus on company contacts in the public and private sectors.” His speeches to corporate execs tend to be “met with several knowing nods, a few furrowed brows, and some gently probing questions.”
But recently he decided to meet some charity and non-profit workers at a community centre in Nottingham, to see if they were on the same economic page as he was. He said:
“I hoped speaking to this different group of organisations, drawn largely from the voluntary sector, might provide me with a different perspective on the fortunes of the economy, the jobs markets and degrees of confidence in the recovery. It did not disappoint. I began by speaking about the UK’s economic recovery. I never got as far as the improvement in the jobs market or surging confidence. I was stopped in my tracks by a forest of furrowed brows and a phalanx of probing questions, not all of them gentle. ‘What exactly do you mean by recovery?’ one asked. ‘My charity is dealing with 50% more homeless people than three years ago.’ Every other charity in the room had similar stories to tell. Whether it was food banks, mental health problems or drug addiction, all of the numbers were up. The language of ‘recovery’ simply did not fit their facts.”
“So far at least, this has been a recovery for the too few rather than the too many, a recovery delivering a little too little rather than far too much,” he said.