The co-operative barometer

The media has been full of the debate in the run up to spending cuts about what is fairness and how fair is Britain. It is a good debate to have.

So we have launched a new economic indicator – ‘The Co-operative Barometer’ – outside the Stock Exchange which looks at what the public believe.

Most people do not believe that ‘we are all in this together’. Our 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. 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


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