What is Social inequality?
This is where resources within a given society are distributed unevenly. Higher levels of social inequality can be seen in LIDCS however, it is still a prevalent issue within AC’s such as the UK. Social inequality is responsible for people to experience a lower QOL (It is to the extent that people’s needs and desires (physical, social and psychological are met) and SOL (It is the ability to have access to goods to services and goods. This includes necessities such as food as well as housing and personal mobility. Experiencing social inequality can lead to deprivation where a lack of resources and opportunities are available and then onto the cycle of deprivation which is why it is so important to combat this issue.
How government is reducing, reinforcing, and creating patterns of social inequality.
A way that the UK government is reducing patterns of social inequality in the country is through putting more funding into the Education sector. Currently 12% of the spending budget is given into Education. Gavin Williamson (the Education Secretary) has announced that £5000 will be provided for each child within a Secondary School alongside Primary schools of £4000. However, there will be more provisional funding for poorer areas in contrast to more affluent areas. For example, Chelsea and Kensington which have one of the highest disposable incomes in the country of £60,000 exclaims that children will be more likely to afford/have access to more resources, which illustrates why it has the least amount of provisional funding allocated with £70.8 million compared to Kent which receives the highest provisional funding of £962 million where average disposable income is £22,000. This illustrates how the UK government is reducing patterns of social inequality. More funding for schools located in deprived areas means that children will have a better opportunity to achieve a higher grade as funding will allow schools to have better resources and opportunities to increase a grade therefore allowing them to get the qualifications needed to better jobs/university. However, a disadvantage is that this funding may be needed in other sectors such as Healthcare especially during times of crisis (e.g. the Coronavirus pandemic). In addition, it’s the school’s responsibility to use the funding in an efficient way which may not always be done which may defeat the purpose of this strategy to overcome social inequality.
Reinforced Patterns of Social Inequality Through NHS
On the other hand, one way in which the government continues to reinforce patterns of social inequality in the UK is through Healthcare (NHS) It’s the governments choice on how much it receives. In 2019-2020 the NHS received £140B. Although the UK provides a free and to some point equal healthcare for everyone, It still reinforces social inequality as private healthcare still exists which can only be accessed through people’s occupations or through a fee of £1500 a year which many won’t be able to afford, meaning these people will not be able to receive the same care as someone with private healthcare as it won’t be to the same standard nor as fast as private, the time wasted waiting for scans or to get redirected to a doctor could lead to illnesses/injuries to worsen, leading to a lower QOL. In addition, many rural areas have limited access to hospitals and the government isn’t doing much to improve the situation this means that people who don’t have access to cars, or the elderly ae disadvantaged even further. This can be linked to the North and South divide; the ‘richer’ south will be more likely to have access to private healthcare due to the average higher income in comparison to the North. However, the option of free healthcare is beneficial as people won’t have to pay for a hospital visit whereas in the US you must pay just for a check-up.
One way that the government creates social inequality is through subsidies. They are a grant given by the government to improve a certain aspect within their life and is set out to be distributed among the most vulnerable (e.g. the elderly, the unemployed etc.) Although they are there to help people many people claim subsidies when they don’t need them, and they eventually become reliant on them. £58 is given a week for single people under the age 24 and this encourages people to not seek higher employment as they know the government will provide them this minimal income on a weekly basis or will just get benefits for ‘extra money’. This means that families that actually require subsidies may not receive them nor will be as prioritised, meaning they won’t have the money to have access to a good standard of living and quality of life which leads to the widening of social inequality. In addition, the government may not see the true importance of subsidies being granted for example, In
Government Vote No to School Meals for Most Vulnerable in UK.
October 2020, 321 conservative party members voted against free school meals this Christmas during a pandemic, they are widening social inequality as subsidies aren’t being distributed effectively to the most vulnerable to combat the issue of social inequality. If subsidies were only granted for those who genuinely need it then it would reduce social inequality, but there are far too many cases where people claim them when they don’t need them.
In conclusion: I believe that the government is implementing more things within society to combat the issue of social inequality within the UK however, we can argue that despite all efforts to reduce it, social inequality will still exist as some people will take advantage of things put in place and it may not benefit all people within society.