The Equalities Minister Harriet Harman says that government needs to "sustain and step-up action" to reduce the gap between rich and poor.
Ms Harman was speaking after the publication of a government-commissioned report which says the gap between rich and poor in the UK is wider now than 40 years ago.
The report by the National Equality Panel found "deep-seated and systemic differences" remain between men and women and minority groups in pay and employment.
Interviewed by the Today programme's Justin Webb Ms Harman said that, even though inequality was long-term and "deeply entrenched" in UK society, government can make a difference by creating a level playing field. "Without government action, equality grows," she added.