The Inequality of Wealth

Why it Matters and How to Fix it

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Pub Date 11 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 11 Jan 2024

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The super-rich have never had it so good. But millions of us can’t afford a home, an education or a pension. And unless we change course soon, the future will be even worse. Much worse. But things don’t have to be like this.

In this bold new book, former Treasury Minister Liam Byrne explains why wealth inequality has grown so fast in recent years; warns how it threatens our society, economy and politics; shows where economics has got it wrong – and lays out a path back to common sense, with five practical ways to rebuild an old ideal: the wealth-owning democracy.

Liam Byrne draws on conversations and debates with former prime ministers, presidents and policymakers around the world, together with experts at the OECD, World Bank and IMF, to argue that after twenty years of statistics and slogans it’s time for solutions that aren’t just radical but plausible and achievable as well.

The future won’t be a land of milk and honey but it could be a place where we live longer, happier, healthier and wealthier lives.


The super-rich have never had it so good. But millions of us can’t afford a home, an education or a pension. And unless we change...

Advance Praise

'Very few in frontline politics have worked as long as Liam Byrne on the theory and practice of tackling inequality - or are as thoughtful and insightful. This new book is essential reading for anyone who cares about tackling one of the great political and moral challenges of our time.' Ed Balls, former Government Minister and Shadow Chancellor

'The UK is an “inheritocracy” – a country where the richest, wealth-wise, have widened the gap with the rest, amplifying social inequalities. Liam Byrne’s book is rich, practical and compelling in its proposals for turning this tide, elevating opportunities and living standards for many millions of people through sweeping institutional reform. I hope it is not just read widely but acted on immediately.'  Andy Haldane, Chief Executive, The RSA

'The effects of inequality are not solely a consequence of poverty, they also result from how wealth and affluence skew society, undermining our social solidarity and wellbeing. Liam Byrne understands the devastating costs of wealth inequality, here is a politician with a true sense of purpose – this is a must-read for those who want to shape a better society.' Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, authors of The Spirit Level

'From the destructive impunity of today’s phenomenally wealthy – the disfiguring feature of our times – to well thought out, original solutions, Liam Byrne makes an indisputable case. Powerful social observation combined with distilling the best of today’s thinking in response – at once readable and passionate – does not come much better than this.' Will Hutton, author of The State We're In: Why Britain Is in Crisis and How to Overcome It

'A thought-provoking read about one of the most difficult yet most important political issues of our time.' Lord Gus O’Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary

'Liam Byrne has spent his years in opposition thinking deeply about what a government should do, and this book is the fruit of that work. This is a plan for a fairer, richer and stronger country, and I hope ministers pay attention.' Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland

'Liam Byrne's new book will help the British left to understand how freedom and equality should be reconciled. He takes the politics of inequality as seriously as we must, but shows us how combating inequality can help us to expand freedom.' Philip Collins, columnist for New Statesman

'Liam Byrne’s The Inequality of Wealth is beautifully written, deeply insightful and above all humane. The policy recommendations are original, bold and persuasive, and should define future debates on how to create a more just society.' Steven Durlauf, the Steans Professor in Educational Policy and the Director of the Stone Center for Research on Wealth Inequality and Mobility at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

'In this bold and incisive book, Liam Byrne makes a compelling case for a radically different approach to wealth and inequality. Everyone who cares about the future of this country and of our society should read it.' Matthew d'Ancona, former Deputy Editor of The Sunday Telegraph

'Reducing wealth inequality remains an urgent global challenge. Liam Byrne has produced a well-informed, sharply-argued and highly-readable analysis of the problem — and more importantly what now needs to be done.' James Crabtree, author of The Billionaire Raj

'This is a wonderful book. Liam Byrne lucidly and elegantly explains why wealth inequality is a key challenge that needs to be at the centre of a meaningful politics of social justice. His thoughtful and creative policy ideas offer a practical platform for addressing these inequities and should command attention across the political spectrum. In these troubled political times, the wise counsel offered here is a great tonic.' Mike Savage, Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics

'Liam Byrne is now thinking about doing what was so very recently unthinkable. He is open to policies he once dismissed as unrealistic, and can be persuaded on others that in the past were painted as pipe dreams. British politics is changing, it is abruptly shifting, in a way it has not done fifty years, and in a good way. The Inequality of Wealth is a key part of that turn. It is a hand-break turn.' Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford

'Very few in frontline politics have worked as long as Liam Byrne on the theory and practice of tackling inequality - or are as thoughtful and insightful. This new book is essential reading for...

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ISBN 9781804543382
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Featured Reviews

This book translates the anti-billionaire discourse, which often go right over people's heads, into real world problems. The insights onto the world of the rich as well as the poor was a really great eye-opening contrast to read following the other. It will help you to understand why some appear to have an issue with excess wealth, in an age where avid social media users seem to not comprehend what the issue is of "some just have money", Liam seems to show them with real world and easy to grasp scenarios. Most political books seem to be too hypothetical with solutions, Liam instead provided solutions as policies which was so realistic, it was refreshing to see.
It is also very well written! Makes it very easy to binge read and is a great counter read to Theresa May's The Abuse of Power.

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