To ask Her Majesty's Government what analysis they have undertaken, or are undertaking, of the income gap between rich and poor; and what are its implications for social cohesion, social mobility and social unrest.
The Government have undertaken and are continuing to undertake a number of studies into this area. The analysis by the Department for Work and Pensions of the income gap between rich and poor can be found in the latest Households Below Average Income publication published in May 2011 and preceding publications, which can be found at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=hbai_arc#hbai.
In addition, the Office for National Statistics produces an annual article The effects of taxes and benefits on household income (ETB) which uses data from the Living Costs and Food Survey, and produces estimates of average household income across the income distribution. In ETB, households are ranked according to their equivalised disposable income and then divided into groups of equal size. The poorest households are those in the bottom group and the richest households are those in the top group: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ ons/rel/household-income/the-effects-of-taxes-and-benefits-on-household-income/2009-2010/stb---etb-2009-10.pdf.
The Government's social mobility strategy Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility (http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/opening-doors-breaking-barriers-strategy-social-mobility) looked at the evidence base on the link between income inequality and social mobility.
There is an active debate about the relationship between income inequality and social mobility. The drivers of social mobility are complex, and income alone does not determine future outcomes. There are a number of countries that have relatively high levels of income inequality but also high levels of social mobility and vice versa. The strategy looks at more than just income and focuses on interventions which have been shown to have a causal link with future success.
With regards to social cohesion, analysis of the 2009-10 Citizenship Survey found that those from lower socio-economic groups were more likely to feel that their local area was cohesive. This analysis is complex but suggests that it is not low income that is driving poor cohesion: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/citizenshipsurvey 200910spirit (see chapter 3).