A new vision for the British economy: the Interim Report of the IPPR Commission on Social Justice

This week, I attended the launch of the Interim Report of the Commission on Social Justice convened by the Left of Centre think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). At the event in London’s Church House, we heard especially from the Chair of the Commission, IPPR Director Tom Kibasi, and Director of the Commission, Michael Jacobs.

The Interim Report highlights four key findings supported by some fascinating data:

1) The British economy today is not generating rising prosperity for a majority of the population. Economic growth no longer leads to higher pay: the period from 2008 to 2021 will be the longest period of earnings stagnation for around 150 years. Young people today are poorer than previous generations at the same age. For too many people and parts of the country, the ‘economic promise’ of rising living standards has been broken.

2) The British economy suffers from deep structural problems. We have less a ‘British economic model’ than an ‘economic muddle’– a mixture of powerful strengths and profound weaknesses. Many of these problems go back a quarter of a century or more. Many are the product of deliberate policy choices. Together they have generated an economy in which too much power is concentrated in too few hands.

3) These structural problems argue for a new approach to economic policy. The case is made stronger by the challenges and opportunities confronting us as we enter the 2020s. Britain faces a ‘decade of disruption’, for which we are as yet largely unprepared as a result of Brexit, deeper globalisation, demographic change, technological change, and environmental degradation.

4) To respond to these challenges and opportunities of the future, and address the economy’s structural weaknesses inherited from the past, the economy will need fundamental reform. Reform of this kind has happened twice before in the last century, following similar periods of economic crisis. The established economic order broke down first after the Great Depression of the 1930s and then again after the oil shocks and ‘stagflation’ (simultaneous high unemployment and inflation) of the 1970s. In both cases, economic crisis led to a major shift in economic understanding, policies and institutions.

You can read a summary of the report and the full text here.


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