Written Evidence

We are grateful for all written evidence for the Wealth Commission received from individuals and organisations. If you would like to submit any evidence in response to any of our questions please contact us at policycommissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk 


Lawton, Kayte & Reed, Howard  (2013) Property and Wealth Taxes in the UK: The Context of Reform, IPPR Discussion Paper, March 2013

Kayte Lawton, senior research fellow at IPPR, recommended an IPPR Discussion Paper on Wealth Taxes for consideration in the Commission's deliberations. The paper assesses the options for reforming wealth taxes in the UK.

Sodha, Sonia (2005) ‘Housing-Rich, Income-Poor: The potential of housing wealth in old age’, Institute for Public Policy Research.

This report uses data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 2002-03 to find out how many people of retirement age in England are ‘housing-rich’, but ‘income-poor’.

View the full report on the IPPR website here


Land Value Taxation Campaign

Response to the Commission's Questions by David K. Mills

David K. Mills was invited to submit a written response to the Commission's questions, which can be viewed here

A further paper by David K. Mills was submitted to the Commission which details the information on Land Valuation Tax which makes a case for adoping a Land Valuation Tax. Ten areas in which LVT may resolve current problems are outlined. The paper is available to view here


Emeritus Professor Richard Wilkinson

Response to the Commission's Questions

Professor Wilkinson was invited to submit a brief written response to the Commission's questions from the perspective of wider inequalities, which can be viewed here

A further paper by Nadine Nowatzki showing relations between national differences in the distribution of wealth and in life expectancywas referenced in the written response and is available to view here


Diane Elson, Professor of Social Policy - University of Essex

Man Yee Kan & Heather Laurie (2010) Savings, investments, debts and psychological well-being in married and cohabiting couples, ISER Working Paper Series: 2010-42

Professor Elson participated in a Commission workshop in February 2013, and she also recommended this paper to the Commission which uses BHPS data to examine couple members' assets.


The Pensions Policy Institute (PPI)

John Adams and Sean James (2009) Retirement income and assets: how can housing support retirement? PPI Discussion Paper

The PPI was commissioned by Prudential plc to undertake research looking at the role that housing wealth could play in supporting retirement incomes in the future.The report concluded that housing wealth is the largest single asset held by UK households, but housing wealth is unequally distributed and those who do have housing wealth do not always view it as a way to save for retirement. Read the full report on the PPI website


Professor Gwilym Pryce, Professor of Urban Economics and Social Statistics, University of Glasgow

Levin, E. & Pryce, G. (2011) The Dynamics of Spatial Inequality in UK Housing Wealth, Housing Policy Debate, 21(1), 99-132.

View the full paper online here

This paper finds that the 'spatial' housing wealth inequality is not rising as much as recent research has indicated. According to Levin et al., the available evidence indicates that there are cycles in housing wealth inequality, but that overall, there is no strong evidence to support a general upwards trend in housing wealth inequality. This paper is also referred to in the Commission’s ‘Key Facts about Wealth’ background paper by Professor Karen Rowlingson.


Pryce, G. (2012) “Housing Wealth Inequality” International Encyclopaedia of Housing & Home, Elsevier: London

Considering in particular the methodological issues in the measurement of housing wealth, this chapter in the International Encyclopaedia of Housing & Home focuses on three dimensions of housing wealth:

  • levels of housing wealth
  • socioeconomic distribution of housing wealth
  • spatial distribution of housing wealth

The paper notes that gains in housing wealth due to house price increases may in fact, though equity release, encourage entrepreneurship. The socioeconomic distribution of housing wealth is discussed in terms of whether it has class reproduction effects, such as whether and how the new homeowning classes of the 1980s have passed on their housing wealth to their children. An intriguing illustration of stock, flow, and life-cycle aspects of housing wealth is described in what Professor Pryce calls the ‘Bathtub Paradox’. The ‘spatial distribution of housing wealth’ refers to different rates of house price appreciation across different geographical regions and is understood in this paper as cyclical, rather than an ever-increasing gap. This is because, as prices in high demand areas increase, lower demand areas catch up as buyers are forced out of neighbouring high price, high demand areas. 

LSE Centre for Economic Performance – Bankers and their Bonuses


This paper describes the scale of bankers' pay and finds that their share of the earnings pie in 2011 was the same as at the peak of the boom in 2007. The authors are sceptical, however, about whether regulation or structural reforms would be efficient in removing/lessening the ability bankers have to generate financial sector rents. They suggest that higher marginal income taxes might be appropriate on equity grounds but leave the paper by flagging up the political and economic controversy this raises. The paper, while focusing on very high incomes (rather than wealth), is relevant to the extent that such super-high incomes generally lead on to wealth inequality.

Geoff Willis - Econodynamics

‘Why Money Trickles Up: Dynamics, Statistical Mechanics, Econophysics, Income Distribution and Poverty’ (Available to view here)
This paper was presented at the recent conference ‘Perspectives on Poverty’ held at City University, which was organised by Barbara Schaller (University of Birmingham).

This paper addresses issues raised in Commission questions 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, 2.7 and 2.9.

Some of the key findings of the paper are as follows:
• The shape of wealth and income distributions are essentially fixed as a consequence of the mathematics of statistical mechanics
• Relatively minor differences between individuals are magnified into large differences in wealth by a process of wealth condensation
• Savings and debt are much more important variables than waged income
• Education, training, etc do not affect the shape of the distribution, only individuals ranking within the distribution. As such they do not assist in reducing inequality.
• There appears to be a direct feedback from increased consumer debt to both increased financial fragility and increased inequality of both wealth and income

The paper ‘A Virtual Forty Acres’ is a policy proposal that addresses Commission questions 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 of the commission. Please contact Geoff Willis for a copy of this paper.

This policy proposal is a practical solution to address inequality. It builds on the compulsory saving schemes for pensions introduced in Chile, Australia and Singapore. It is proposed that all individuals have an independent tax exempt capital account that would be built up by compulsory and assisted saving. Individuals would be allowed to draw income on these accounts throughout their lives. The system proposed would not rely on extensive taxation of wealth or income.