The wealth gap is at its widest for more than 40 years, creating ghettoes of the richest and the poorest that have virtually nothing to do with each other, a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report finds today. In parts of the South-East the ‘average’ family is an endangered species and ‘urban clusters’ of poor people in city centres are surrounded by wealthy households concentrated on the outskirts. Since 1970 the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen, but those below the poverty line have risen. Meanwhile, the number of ‘asset-wealthy households’ rose dramatically between 1999 and 2003 with nearly one in four of families in this category because of rising house prices.
A second report by the foundation said the public felt uncomfortable about the big gap between rich and poor. During the past 20 years, a ‘large and enduring’ majority of people – 73 per cent – felt this way.
A report by the Commission for Rural Communities shows there are 400,000 fewer young people aged 15-29 in rural areas than 20 years ago, contributing significantly to a rural demographic which is both older – and ageing faster – than urban areas.
The Daily Mail reports that some leading lenders have increased their arrangement fees by more than 600 per cent in the last two years.
Gordon Brown’s promise to release surplus public sector land is most welcome, it would account for at most 5 per cent of the total new homes we need to meet the three million target by 2020, says a sceptical Homebuilders Federation boss, Stewart Baseley, writing to The Times.