A total of 80 people in the world have a combined wealth of $1.9 trillion.
Their wealth has increased by £600 billion in just four years and the richest one per cent of people in the world own 48 per cent of global wealth. In the United Kingdom, as in most Western economies, the rich are getting richer.
You might take the view that we don’t begrudge people doing well financially if they work hard and contribute to the national economy. But what is clearly the case is that too often the increased wealth of the few is being gained at the expense of the rest. It’s not only the poorest in our country who have seen a decline in their income. Middle Britain, hardworking families everywhere, have seen their share of our total income decline.
Look at Yorkshire and the Humber. 25 per cent of our workforce are paid below the living wage. The average income for a working person in Wakefield is £135 per week lower than the average income in the Prime Minister’s home county of Oxfordshire. Our life expectancy is lower than elsewhere in the UK and our children are less likely to get 5 A-C GCSEs.
What’s more, the Commission on Social Mobility has reported that children from poor backgrounds in Yorkshire are far less likely to get a university education and a top job than those from similar backgrounds in the capital city.
Labour’s case for a fairer country has never been stronger nor more urgent. The Labour Party is now at the heart of the debate as to how we can build a better and fairer Britain. We need to respond also to the new economic and political circumstances we find ourselves in. Yorkshire and the Humber helped drive the economy of our nation through the industrial revolution. Today we have many world class businesses but their growth and the prosperity of citizens of our county is held back by our inability to make decisions for ourselves.
The last Labour government delivered real devolution in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. We have unfinished business in England. Tory devolution too often means devolution of cuts rather than of power. We can’t let George Osborne have the last word on the governance of Yorkshire and the north.
I want to invite everyone in the north to contribute to a great debate about devolving powers. Not devolution for devolution’s sake, but so that we can build a brighter, better future all the people of our region.