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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 17:31 GMT
If... Things Don't Get Better
Gated community
In the film, wealthy residents want protection from the poor
By 2014, the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time since World War II, and it's getting wider. As resentment grows on both sides of the poverty divide, can any government hope to reduce the gap?

"It's becoming a very polarised society, almost an apartheid of rich and poor," says Will Hutton, economist and author of The State We're In.

Ten years from now, in 2014, Britain is a deeply divided society.

We asked BBC Interactive users what they thought of the issue

Most of us are better off than we are today, but the gulf between rich and poor has increased to a degree not seen since the second world war.

The haves and have-nots lead increasingly separate lives, and the haves want to be protected from the have-nots.

Rising taxes?

Britain's first black prime minister, Andrew Kirk, leader of the Lib/Lab coalition, is determined to narrow the inequality gap through welfare spending plans and fairer taxation.

But it looks as if he's fighting a losing battle.

If... things don't get better
Wednesday, 17 March, 2004 at 2100 GMT on BBC Two
The middle classes are unwilling to pay more tax and many have retreated behind gated communities, seeking to protect themselves from the crime and poverty around them.

"If one group retires behind their moat...that is a society which is in my view heading towards total fracture and I don't want to be in it, " Sir Ian Blair, Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police.

They are also fed up with the new local income tax, which the government says is fairer, but which they say makes them pay for services they never use.

Most people realise that...to pay more of their income out in tax does not equate to having better public services
Deanne Julius, economist
After a spate of petty crimes the residents of one London gated community decide to cordon off their road with private security guards to prevent further problems, and then the trouble really starts.

As the question of how to improve public services without raising taxes becomes the key political battleground in Britain, can any government hope to narrow the gap between rich and poor?

If... things don't get better was broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesday, 17 March, 2004.

Your comments
15 Mar 04 |  If


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