To what extent has your experience of Covid-19 been impacted by your own starting points or those of your local community?
Peaks of power and privilege
What did power and privilege mean to you before the pandemic hit?
Many have been historically well served by the current economic and political systems, benefitting from a sustained period of economic growth and accumulating power and resources.
This is an advantageous starting point from which to navigate uncertainty and to cope with shock.
"Like all crises perhaps, this situation will make not just the poor poorer, but the rich, richer."
What we heard...
"All of these corporations that are chasings growth for growths sake (e.g. like airlines), that needs to change in the next ten years. I don’t think that is sustainable at all. They're still betting on massive expansion. I think we need less focus on growth. If we [the community greengrocer] never grow, but we continue to employ five people who have viable livelihoods, who support a raft of volunteers who feel that it give them life and joy, that is good, that is a result, we don’t have to grow to be successful, embedded and providing valuable livelihoods and jobs…. That has to be the priority for the future”
Isla McCulloch, Chairperson of the community greengrocer Dig In, Edinburgh
“...like all crises perhaps, this situation will make not just the poor poorer, but the rich, richer. For example, huge government bailout money will end up in pockets of Landlords. Local Authority austerity in the aftermath will force immense pressure to sell land, when they most need to be doing the exact opposite. In other words, systemic market failures, inequalities and injustices (e.g., monopolies) are likely to be amplified. A perfect storm of system failure is coming.”
Alastair Parvin, CEO, Open Systems Lab
Stats and facts
- In 2018 the richest fifth of households in the UK had an income more than 12 times the amount earned by the poorest fifth (£95,767 compared to £7,703).
- Over the last five years, average income for the richest 20% in society has increased by 4.7% whereas the poorest 20% have seen a fall in income by 1.6%.
- Since 1980, the share of income earned by the top 1% in the UK has generally been rising, peaking to 13% in 2015.
- Wealth in Great Britain is even more unequally divided than income. In 2016, the ONS calculated that the richest 10% of households hold 44% of all wealth. The poorest 50%, by contrast, own just 9%.
Food for thought
“The 2000s ushered in an era of credentialism that prevented ordinary people from rising through the ranks. Jobs that once required a high school degree now required a BA, jobs that required a BA now required an MA, and the choice was pay to play or get locked out. Sometimes you paid and got locked out anyway, as wealthy elites purchased careers for their untalented offspring.”
Sarah Kendzior, Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America (2020)
“Those who have power rarely want to acknowledge that they have unearned benefits at the expense of others.”
Alicia Garza, The Purpose of Power (2020)