A Better Fairer Future – no return to the same old

11 August 2021

Covid-19 has shone a light on inequalities and social disadvantage. It has also amplified inequality. There is a strong correlation and causation between the propensity to catch Covid and levels of income, housing conditions, and other contributors to inequality.

These inequalities, homelessness, poverty, educational disadvantage, and long-term health inequity are not new. They have not been caused by Covid-19. Structural inequalities have always existed and in too many cases were growing before the pandemic hit.

Therefore, when politicians and others make the case for building back better one wonders what they want to go back to. A lack of ambition and resolve to build a fairer and more equal society, a fairer and inclusive economy, and environmental sustainability is both deeply disappointing and a missed opportunity.

We must not rebuild a failed economic system, inequality, and political elitism. We have to challenge inequality and the causes of inequality.

When I first met the Reverend Paul Nicolson, the inspirational founder of Taxpayers Against Poverty I was captured by his passionate belief that we can create a better society where poverty, homelessness and obscene levels of inequality could be put behind us. Paul recognised that to rid society of these scourges we must challenge, agitate, campaign, and advocate a new progressive policy agenda.

Paul was never intimidated and was ready to take on vested interests. He was ready even in the last weeks of his life to protest, to write powerful letters, and to build coalitions for radical change. He recognised the importance of community power and community campaigning; and he used his own platform to ensure that communities and those marginalised by social and economic structural inequalities could express their voices loudly and effectively.

As we face the future after eighteen months of the pandemic, we would have benefited from Paul’s counsel, vision, and resolve. Sadly, Paul is no longer with us but his spirit lives on. Taxpayers Against Poverty intends to continue to carry forward Paul’s campaigns.

Working with our partners at Compassion in Politics – an organisation for which Paul respected and supported as a natural partner for Taxpayers Against Poverty – we plan to demand that the government and others seize the moment to build back fairer.  Our aim must be to achieve irreversible and sustainable change for the better.

As our partners at Compassion in Politics argue

“The Covid Pandemic has highlighted the best of the nation: our levels of compassion, the courage of our keyworkers, the sacrifices we are all willing to make for the good of others. However, it has also exposed how many are struggling to get by and having to do without the basics needed to be able to live a healthy life.

We have to build back better. We cannot have a Britain where the odds of surviving a pandemic are stacked against those in particular socio-economic or ethnic groups or people with disabilities and where children go hungry. And we cannot head into a major recession without ensuring that at the very least everyone’s basic needs are met. After the Second World War, we built a land fit for heroes, and we need to do the same now. 

Polling conducted by Opinium, for the cross-party think tank Compassion in Politics, shows that 76% of the public would support a measure - a Covid Legacy Act - that ensured that everyone’s basic needs are met.”

Taxpayers Against Poverty fully endorses the campaign for a Covid Legacy Act.

Our Taxpayers Against Poverty agenda for action is forward-looking whilst firmly rooted in Paul’s legacy. To that end, we are calling on the government and other political parties to commit to

  • introduce a minimum income standard
  • end precarious employment practices
  • rebuild and improve public services with a basic guarantee for families, individuals, and communities
  • eliminate homelessness
  • tackle education and health inequalities; and the structural causes of these and related inequalities
  • tax land and wealth as part of a progressive redistributive programme
  • reform politics and political and governance systems to ensure integrity and equality within the system
  • community power
  • enact a Compassion Bill and a Covid Legacy Bill as proposed by Compassion in Politics
  • address the climate emergency

Over the next year, Taxpayers Against Poverty will be campaigning on these and related issues. We will be making the case for building back fairer and sustainably better, and not for any return to the failed “the same old”.

We invite others to join us as we will ourselves join with others to make the case for progressive change.