Commission calls for radical overhaul of the UK economy

A higher minimum wage and changes to the ways companies are run are just two recommendations from the think tank's ten year plan
A higher minimum wage and changes to the ways companies are run are just two recommendations from the think tank's ten year plan

Radical changes are needed to reform the UK’s economy, including a higher minimum wage, raising public investment, changes to the way companies are governed, and regulation of tech giants, a new report urges.

The 10-year reform plan was published by a commission set up in 2016 by the IPPR think-tank, including the TUC, economists and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

More than 70 recommendations were put forward, including a new National Investment Bank, workers on company boards, an increase in corporation tax, higher pay for workers on zero hours contracts, and speeding up of automation.

Almost a decade since the financial crisis, it said the living standards of tens of millions of people had “stagnated”, young people had seen life chances deteriorate, and the economic gulf between London and the South East and the rest of the country had widened.

Low investment and productivity and an unsustainable trade deficit had developed over the past 40 years, so the economy needed to be “hard-wired” for justice, the commission added.

Economic power should be “re-balanced”, from corporate management to workers and unions, and from Westminster to regions.

“For decades the UK economy has not worked as it should, with millions of people and many parts of the country receiving less than their fair share,” said the Archbishop Justin Welby.

“The widening gulf between rich and poor, and fears about the future among young people and their parents, have damaged our nation’s sense of itself.

“Our report shows that it doesn’t have to be like this. By putting fairness at the heart of the economy, we can make it perform better, improving the lives of millions of people. Achieving prosperity and justice together is not only a moral imperative - it is an economic one.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was time for a once-in-a-generation rethink of the economy.

“Working people have had enough of stagnating living standards and massive inequality, and no-one’s buying the idea that there’s no alternative.

“A better deal for working people is possible, and will allow us to build a stronger, fairer economy.”

IPPR director Tom Kibasi said: “The economy belongs to us all and this report shows that we can change it so it works for everyone, bridging the gap between the country we are and the country we would like to be.

“The commission has reached a remarkable agreement on a new direction for the UK economy. Our proposals are unashamedly ambitious. Taken together, they offer the prospect of the most significant change in economic policy in a generation.

“We aim to spark a national conversation on the economic change this country so desperately needs.”