Established in autumn 2016 in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the aim of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice was to examine the challenges facing the UK economy and to recommend proposals for reform. Commissioners come from across the economy and society and from different political viewpoints, including on Brexit. The Commission is non-party-political.
Prosperity and Justice argues that the economy is not working for millions of people and needs fundamental reform. Average earnings have stagnated for more than a decade; young people are set to be poorer than their parents; the nations and regions of the UK are diverging further. Many of the causes of the UK’s poor economic performance – particularly its weaknesses in productivity, investment and trade – go back 30 years or more. Fundamental reform has happened twice before in the last century following periods of crisis – with the Attlee government’s Keynesian reforms in the 1940s and the Thatcher government’s free market reforms in the 1980s. Ten years after the financial crash, change of this magnitude is needed again.
The report argues that a fair economy is a strong economy: prosperity and justice can, and must, go hand-in-hand. But it is not sufficient to seek to redress injustices and inequalities simply by redistribution. They need to be tackled at source, in the structures of the economy in which they arise. Economic justice needs to be ‘hard-wired’ into the way the economy works.
Setting out a wide-ranging and integrated ten-part plan for economic reform, the report argues for a new vision of the economy and a rebalancing of economic power. Together, its more than 70 recommendations offer the potential for the most significant change in economic policy in a generation.