By Claire West

A new economic indicator launched by Co-operatives UK outside the Stock Exchange today reveals that, while politicians talk fairness, the public believe that the UK is an unfair nation.

‘The Co-operative Barometer’ is a new index that tracks public perceptions of how easy it is to get ahead and how easy it is to fall behind in the UK. The result can be tracked over time to see how the country responds to economic uncertainty and the new government austerity.

The first Co-operative Barometer scores the UK at only 14, out of a possible top score of 100. The initial research, which surveyed over 1,000 adults, was run by George Street Research on behalf of Co-operatives UK.

“A sense of fairness is good for consumers and markets, but with uncertain times ahead, most people do not believe that ‘we are all in this together’,” comments Ed Mayo, author of the report, The Co-operative Barometer: how fair is Britain?, which accompanies the index.

The new findings on fairness show that:

- One in three people (32%) believe there are equal opportunities in the UK

- One in four (25%) believe that Britons do their bit to help people in need

- The only region across the UK that stands out with a positive view of helping out others is the North East of England

- Over two thirds of people (68%) say that people don’t behave towards others in the way that they would want to be treated

- One in five (19%) say that they way business treats them is fair. For co-operative businesses, this is three quarters of people (75%)

- Only one in ten people (10%) believe the distribution of wealth is fair.

“If you think that fairness is just motherhood and apple pie, try dividing up the pie unequally between children and watch what happens” comments Ed Mayo, who is Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, the network of co-operative enterprises. “We care about fairness and we also have an instinctive, though not always consistent, sense of what is fair or unfair.”

“In a service economy such as the UK, markets do better when people know they will be treated fairly. In asking the people of Britain how fair they feel we are as a nation, we are helping to fill a gap. We hope that fairness can become a regular and recognised measure of economic trends.”

The full report - ‘The Co-operative Barometer: how fair is Britain?’ is available at