Inequalities in pay is threatening democracy

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that inequalities in pay and opportunities in the UK are becoming so extreme they are threatening democracy.

Warning of runaway incomes for high earners but increases in ‘deaths of despair’, such as from addiction and suicide, among the poorest, the think tank highlights risks to ‘centre-ground’ politics from stagnating pay and divides in health and education. Such widening gaps are ‘making a mockery of democracy’, warns the study.

Launching what it says is the UK's biggest analysis of inequality, the IFS claimed that people getting rich is a good thing, but not if it is at the expense of ‘enriching the few’. The think tank has published indicators of inequality - such as the average chief executive of a FTSE 100 company now earning 145 times the average salary, up from 47 times in 1998, suggesting that pay inequality in the UK is high by international standards.

As well as inequality in income, the think tank highlights divergence in health, saying there is almost a 10-year gap in male life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas - as well as a rise in early deaths from drug and alcohol abuse and suicide being linked to factors such as poverty, social isolation and mental health problems.