Richest households receive three times the rail subsidy of the poorest says new report

The richest 10% of households receive over three and a half times the amount of government public rail subsidy as the poorest, according to a new report from the Equality Trust.

Overall, that group receives £978 million in transport subsidy - over three times more than the £297 million received by the poorest 10%.

The report also found:

  • When broken down by household the richest 10% still gain nearly double the subsidy of the poorest, £294 per year per household compared to just £162.
  • For the rail system alone a household in the richest 10% receives over three and a half times as much subsidy as one in the poorest 10%
  • A household in London benefits from almost four times as much from rail subsidy as a household in Wales.
  • Inequality of travel subsidy is not a recent development - for most of the last 20 years, the richest 10% has received over four times the level of subsidy of the poorest 10%

Equality Trust Director Duncan Exley said: “Our transport system is vital to us all. It’s how we get to work, send our kids to school, how we shop and generally move around. It literally binds the nation together. But despite this it is still failing many of our poorest.”

He added: “This isn’t helped by our system of subsidies. We are spending a huge amount of money helping the already relatively well off. But far less money is going towards helping those at the bottom, people who desperately need support to access decent jobs. The result is these subsidies are effectively increasing inequality.”

The report recommends that the Department for Transport, and all other government departments, should review the net effect of their existing policies as a whole on inequality. It also recommends that all government departments should consider whether or not any new policy proposal increases inequality, as part of their cost-benefit evaluation process.

The Equality Trust also calls on the Government to commission the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to estimate the net impact of its annual budget on UK inequality.

Read the report


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  • Mark Smith - 12/06/2015 15:19

    Ah, but the richer familes pay more income tax. When yoy subtract that, and they get by far the smallest net subsidy - ie a big negative one!

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    • Darren Eckersley - 18/06/2015 13:55

      "the richer families pay more income tax" Yes they do, but income tax is a minority of tax collected. The tax regime overall (including VAT, council tax etc) is regressive - hitting the poorest (who pay about 43% of their incomes in tax) harder than the richest (who only pay about 35%).

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  • Adrian Bruce - 13/06/2015 00:26

    Of course they'd get 3 times the subsidy if they paid three times the amount in fares. We need to know the percentage subsidy not the absolute values as we appear to have been given here.

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  • Peter Greenwood - 13/06/2015 22:03

    London is the engine of the UK economy requiring higher train subsidies to succeed. London subsidises rest of UK, if London doesn't succeed the rest of UK will suffer.

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