Oxfam – Inequality Exists Shock
24th January 2018
So, to recap on Wings Oxfam ‘analysis’ of the Oxfam inequality reports:
There was a report. It was on their website. It was about Scotland. Inequality exists. Inequality is growing.
“Oxfam found that the UK, and indeed Scotland, was no exception to this rule, with the wealthiest one per cent in Scotland owning more wealth than the bottom 50 per cent put together. Globally, the richest one per cent own 82 per cent of the world’s wealth. The report, Reward Work, Not Wealth makes the case that this model is unsustainable, and that it is possible for the economy to be redesigned to create a fairer system.”
Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland wrote:
“This isn’t a faraway crisis. We know that in Scotland, having a job does not always mean escaping poverty: the vast majority of working age people living in poverty here live in a home where someone’s got a job. Worldwide, our economy of the one per cent is built on the backs of low paid workers who are denied basic rights. Temporary, precarious work is the norm in developing countries, and on the rise in rich nations too. Women are hit hardest by income inequality, as they are often in the lowest-paid, most insecure and most unsafe jobs.”
On the key notion that inequality is growing, the reports are clear. ‘Building a More Equal Scotland: Designing Scotland’s Poverty and Inequality Commission’ states:
“Across the UK, wealth inequality has increased in recent years. In addition, while overall measures of income inequality have shown broad stability across Scotland and the UK since the early 1990s, following big increases in the 1980s, earnings inequality before tax and benefits as well as the net incomes of the top 1% have continued to grow. What’s more, income inequality and poverty increased in the past year and are expected to rise further in coming years. Income inequality in Scotland is now at historically high levels last seen in the early 1990s.”
The key parts of the report are highlighted here.
“The chart below illustrates the distribution of household income in Scotland in 2015/16.
Chart: Distribution of Scottish population by percentile of net equivalised household income (2015/16)
[Source: FAI Analysis of Households Below Average Income dataset, accessed via UK Data Service]
The chart shows that, after accounting for the size of the household, the richest 10% of the Scottish population live in households with a net income of more than £912 per week. In contrast, the equivalent figure for the poorest 10% is less than £240. The figure is above £2,608 per week for the richest 1%.
Wealth inequality in Scotland is even starker. The chart below shows the distribution of household wealth in Scotland in 2012/14 (explained further in section 2.9). It shows the wealthiest 10% own 9.4 times more household wealth than the bottom 40% put together.”
Last year, on the inauguration of Scotland’s new Poverty and Inequality Commission in Edinburgh an open letter from 37 organisations including Oxfam Scotland, The Poverty Alliance, the STUC, SCVO, Shelter Scotland and the Church of Scotland, as well as the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, which is also signed by Engender, Inclusion Scotland, the Poverty Truth Commission, Barnardos, Citizens Advice Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, the Scottish Refugee Council and the Scottish Community Development Centre, among others – called for action.
The letter said: “Extreme economic inequality is a global issue but the concentration of money at the top of Scottish society is holding back efforts to end the scandal that nearly one in five people in our rich country live in poverty. It is not a coincidence that a record number of Scots are turning to food banks when the incomes of the richest 10% of people in Scotland exceed those of the bottom 40% put together. Wealth is even more unequally shared: the richest 1% own more than the bottom 50% put together. Worryingly, without action, this extreme inequality is predicted to get worse.
“Many of our organisations are all too familiar with the distressing consequences: from the parents who don’t have enough money to feed their children to those women and men stuck on zero hours contracts or in low-paid jobs which fail to pay enough to make ends meet. We recognise that women are often impacted hardest and generally face higher levels of economic inequality.”
Scotland in the World
Oxfam prepare a global report and then tailor output for each country.
This is standard practice for global lobby groups.
So if you read the New Zealand Herald , they’ll have a New Zealand version.
It’s not very complicated and it’s not a conspiracy.
Here’s some examples:
Och – you get the gist. It’s not that difficult is it?
So a global system has specific national variations. Miraculously Scotland isn’t immune to this despite (brace yourselves) the SNP government.
Stuart Campbell didn’t seem to know who Katherine Trebeck was, despite her speaking to the audience at the 1200+ Build 2 event at the Usher Hall.
He writes: “Katherine Trebeck, an Australian academic who does do research for Oxfam but whose name also appears nowhere in the document …”
He also writes: “We were a little bit surprised that Oxfam would have commissioned a report into Scotland.”
Why would you be surprised?
Here’s one on low pay in Scotland: “What Makes for Decent Work“.
This one was devised by Oxfam Scotland and the University of the West of Scotland. The research consulted 1,500 people between October 2015 and February 2016.
It’s not very unusual. There are dozens. Why wouldn’t there be?
All that has happened is that happened is in Oxfam’s Scottish press release they linked to Scottish stats from a report from last year.
Here it is that report. You can download it here.
“Building a More Equal Scotland” they write: “produced in collaboration with the Fraser of Allander Institute, explores the scale of inequality in Scotland and the drivers behind it. The report examines some, but not all, of the intersecting and overlapping dimensions of economic inequality and poverty – as well as potential policy responses and the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”
Moving Beyond Conspiracy
So it seems there is vast and growing inequality in Scotland, as elsewhere, and no you don’t live in a giant conspiracy.
Maybe an idea to stand down one over-zealous reader who suggested:
ScotsRenewables says: 22 January, 2018 at 10:54 pm “Maybe it’s about time we organised some mass purchasing of the Herald followed by very public burning ??”.
The enemy is not just the Herald though, it’s Oxfam, apparently. One reader writes:
Vestas says:22 January, 2018 at 5:30 pm
“Personally I don’t believe anything Oxfam says without checking it THOROUGHLY. Oxfam became a lobbying group rather than an aid charity a long time ago & like all such groups/charities its up its own arse in terms of money paid to “execs” & nepotism. tl;dr I wouldn’t believe anything 50%+ of “British” charities say on any subject. There’s probably (IMHO) 5 major charities worth giving money to in the UK, the rest (Oxfam being a poster child) are sinecures for the privately educated inbred wankers who run the “UK”.
One reader Malky just said:
“You’re on fire, Sir.”
…while another writes:
“You don’t have a like button but just to say I for one appreciate every post. Please never stop till we’re free. You will have a place in our roll of honour of our Scots that never stopped fighting to get us out of this toxic union. Well done!!”
Only in the paranoid world of Wings and his supporters would the issue of the Herald publishing a report on inequality in Scotland be more important than the reality of that inequality.
Scotland suffers from the same impacts of exploitation, poverty and inequality as the rest of the capitalist world. This is a (possibly the) driving motivation for independence, but this will not be achieved by hiding behind a wall that pretends that any problems identified in Scotland must either be fictional inventions of a hostile press or the delusions of a campaigning charity.
The enemy is not a newspaper but the economic system that disfigure communities and diminishes lives.
As the Oxfam reports suggests: “To end the inequality crisis, we must build an economy for ordinary working people, not the rich and powerful.”