A Matter of Assets
29 January 2010
Social Mobility for Black and Asian People Curbed by Lack of Assets.
Up to 60% of Black and Asian people have no savings at all, reveals a new research report by the Runnymede Trust.
The report highlights how tough policy decisions will have to be made to ensure that all people, regardless of ethnicity, have the assets to fulfil their potential.
Last week’s report from the National Equality Panel found that average household asset wealth among white families was £221,000, while the figures for Black African and Bangladeshi groups were only £21,000 and £15,000 respectively.
The report ‘Why Do Assets Matter?’ explains wealth holdings for different ethnic groups, as well as for women, and argues that policy should do more to build up assets for everyone.
Dr Rob Berkeley, Director of Runnymede, says:
"Wealth, and their relationship to it, preoccupies very many people in the UK today. But whatever people’s lifetime aspirations and expectations, in reality very few ever acquire significant assets. We can and should do better to ensure that everyone has access to assets, especially those who currently lack them, to make social mobility a reality in the UK."
While income inequality in the UK attracts more attention, asset inequality outstrips it in significance. The National Equality Panel found that whereas the top 10% of families in the UK have asset wealth in excess of £850,000, the bottom 10% of families can lay claim to less than £9000 worth of assets – nearly 100 times less.
The lifetime consequences for people who do not have assets and do not accumulate assets as they age are wide ranging and have serious knock-on effects. These include:
- Limited access to higher education
- Lack of options in choosing your first job
- Limits to the amount of time you can devote to childcare
- Decreased capacity for buying or renting a property of your choice
- Restricted ability to travel, socialise, or have a fulfilling retirement
- Problems with access to affordable credit
Yet for many, the notion of saving with a purpose has lost its meaning since credit has taken over as the way of paying for key purchases, even very expensive ones. The consequence of this balloon of borrowing is a mountain of debt. Since 2008 we have become more concerned about the size and security of these debts – and of the wider financial system – as their effects on our economy have become clearer. Now would be a good time for politicians to seriously examine the value of promoting savings and asset building, to support a more solid future for all, including Black and minority ethnic people.
With this purpose in mind, our report examines, in some detail, who has assets and who does not. It discusses the variety of reasons why assets matter, both socially and financially. And it proposes ways to increase asset-holding so that everyone in the UK has a better chance of realising their aspirations and participating in a more socially responsible and successful multi-ethnic British society.
Read the full report - Why Do Assets Matter?
Download the executive summary.