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Towards a More Equal Society? Poverty, inequality and policy since 1997

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John Hills, Tom Sefton and Kitty Stewart (eds)
Policy Press (25 February 2009)

Cover of Towards a More Equal Society? Poverty, inequality and policy since 1997When New Labour came to power in 1997, its leaders asked for it to be judged after ten years on its success in making Britain 'a more equal society'. As it approaches the end of an unprecedented third term in office, this book asks whether Britain has indeed moved in that direction.

The highly successful earlier volume A more equal society? was described by Polly Toynbee at The Guardian as 'the LSE's mighty judgement on inequality'. Now this second volume by the same team of authors provides an independent assessment of the success or otherwise of New Labour's policies over a longer period. It provides:

  • consideration by a range of expert authors of a broad set of indicators and policy areas affecting poverty, inequality and social exclusion
  • analysis of developments up to the third term on areas including income inequality, education, employment, health inequalities, neighbourhoods, minority ethnic groups, children and older people
  • an assessment of outcomes a decade on, asking whether policies stood up to the challenges, and whether successful strategies have been sustained or have run out of steam
  • chapters on migration, social attitudes, the devolved administrations, the new Equality and Human Rights Commission, and future pressures

The book is essential reading for academic and student audiences with an interest in contemporary social policy, as well as for all those seeking an objective account of Labour's achievements in power.

John Hills is director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and professor of social policy at LSE. Tom Sefton was formerly a research fellow at CASE, and now works for the Church Urban Fund. Kitty Stewart is a lecturer in social policy at LSE and a research associate at CASE.

To view the 'findings' from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, visit http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/poverty-inequality-and-policy-1997|


'John Hills and his colleagues have produced another invaluable report on New Labour's record. Towards A More Equal Society? provides a balanced and nuanced assessment of New Labour's performance as a party of social justice. Its individual chapters are each authoritative essays on Labour's performance in key policy areas, while the book as a whole offers many cross cutting insights into what has worked, what hasn't and what we still need more time to judge. Any student, commentator or policy maker seeking to learn the important lessons from Labour's first decade could not have a better guide'
Matthew Taylor, former chief adviser on Political Strategy to Tony Blair; currently chief executive, RSA