Five: More equal working lives? An assessment of New Labour policies

This chapter considers the impact of New Labour policies on inequalities in the labour market, focusing in particular on the experiences of previously disadvantaged groups: younger and older workers, the long-term unemployed, lone parents, disabled persons, and women. While New Labour did not set out to reduce inequality in the labour market as a main policy objective, it has tackled inequality in employment rates as the result of a number of major policy objectives and through setting a range of targets. The three main targets are: to achieve ‘full employment’ through the Employment Opportunity for All agenda; to eradicate child poverty by 2020; and to reach a 70% employment rate among lone parents by 2010. While policies designed to meet these targets have had an impact on the unequal distribution of work across individuals and households, they have not addressed labour-market inequality in terms of earnings inequality.

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