Last week the Commission on Economic Justice delivered its final report. Hosted by the think tank IPPR, the commission has outlined why the economy fails to deliver justice, and what a vision for a new economy might be. For those of us keen to take part in a conversation about a new economy, it’s a landmark report. But what do we mean by economic justice?
The report uses six principles to describe the concept of economic justice:
- In an advanced economy such as Britain’s, “economic justice must mean no-one living in absolute poverty.”
- People should be treated with dignity, which includes fair wages, safe conditions, and basic respect. That includes the workplace, but also our dealings with the state – such as accessing benefits, for example.
- Nobody should be excluded by the economy, and large gender and race gaps are “evidence of structural injustice.”
- “Economic justice means narrowing inequalities of wealth, income and power over time”. Since things are currently very unequal, the economy needs to be rebalanced to favour those on the lower end of the income scale.
- No places should be left behind. There’s a geography to injustice, and some areas of the country have been neglected, locking in disadvantage for future generations.
- On a related topic, “economic justice means looking after the future as well as the present.”
As Christians, we understand the call for justice, and we recognise that the economy is not delivering for everybody. The six principles here give us a way of translating that Biblical call for justice into our own economy. It bridges theology and economics, if you will, which is what we aim to do with the Joy in Enough campaign.
For those interested, Prosperity and Justice: A plan for the new economy can be downloaded in full, or it can bought as a book. The executive summary is here.