Working together for a fair recovery
January 14, 2021
2021 has started with a mix of hope and uncertainty. Even as COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out, restrictions have tightened once again across the UK. When we look beyond the immediate challenges of the pandemic towards recovery there's collective recognition of the need to build back fairer to create a more equitable, greener and sustainable future.
Over the course of the past year, we’ve seen the way different parts of society have pulled together in the crisis; volunteers helping vulnerable people in their neighbourhoods, local communities supporting local businesses; hotels opening their doors to the homeless, manufacturers making medical supplies.
This sort of collaboration undoubtedly brings greater understanding - I know I’m not alone in feeling I’ve learnt more about the inequalities and vulnerabilities in society. Unfairness has really come home to roost - we now know that in health terms, black, asian and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected. In economic terms, the unfairness has played out on those who are self-employed, on zero-hours or part-time contracts, on mothers and carers and those that run small businesses. Back in March, a PwC survey found that 70% of those who earned more than £50,000 a year were able to work at home, compared with 32% of those who were earning less than £20,000 a year. And another recent PwC survey revealed that 28% of women say their pay has decreased as a result of the pandemic, compared to 22% of men.
This growing understanding of the inequalities in our society has generated a powerful momentum, bringing together national and local government, businesses, charities and communities. I have no doubt this wide scale collaboration is key to addressing the deep discord in UK society. And we are shaping the next phase of our Future of Government programme around it - looking at drawing groups of people together to help deliver a recovery that promotes fairness and equality.
Our practical programme, grounded in large scale public research, will explore how to create a more equal society, including closing the opportunity gap between different places - or ‘levelling up’, improving social mobility, advancing gender equality and ensuring ethnic diversity and inclusion.
While COVID-19 was first seen by many as a leveller, it’s clear as time has passed that it’s become a driver of division. Deep-rooted inequalities have been exposed in every part of the UK - even in some of the wealthiest areas. And it has led to calls for changes that had to happen, somewhere down the line, to happen now. At PwC, we are part of the business community in which these changes need to happen and we will continue to work collaboratively as part of the solution.