Britain’s Coping Classes at Breaking Point

Tim Ross, London Telegraph, October 10, 2010

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A 700-page report [from the the Equality and Human Rights Commission] forms the first comprehensive survey of disadvantage and discrimination across Britain. While the country today is more tolerant than in 1970, society is still not fair for many people, it says. The economic crisis and the Government’s proposed spending cuts threaten to make inequality worse, it says. The report, How Fair is Britain?, finds:

* Progress at narrowing the pay gap between men and women has “stalled”. While there has been substantial improvement over the past 30 years, momentum has “ground to a halt”. Women working full-time earn 16.4 per cent less than men.

* The white working classes are missing out on good jobs compared with other ethnic groups, with Chinese and Indian men nearly twice as likely to find professional work.

* Unemployment among ethnic minorities costs the economy almost £8.6 billion a year in benefits and lost revenue from taxes. Half of Muslim men and three quarters of Muslim women are unemployed.

The country has a strong sense of tolerance and fair play. However, racism and religious prejudice are increasing, while hostility towards immigration has grown.

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Mr Phillips says: “This review holds up the mirror to fairness in Britain. Sixty years on from the Beveridge report and the creation of the welfare state, his five giants of squalor, disease, ignorance, want and idleness have been cut down to size, though they still stalk the land.

“For some, the gateways to opportunity appear permanently closed while others seem to have been issued with an ‘access all areas’ pass at birth. Recession, demographic change and new technology all threaten to deepen the fault lines between insiders and outsiders.”

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