Gap between rich and poor 'growing'

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The gap between rich and poor has widened sharply since 1979, partly as a result of Conservative tax policies, while poverty has continued to mount, a report by the Fabian Society said yesterday.

These latest conclusions on rich and poor, based on Central Statistical Office figures, coincide with evidence that Britain has become sufficiently poor to quality for financial assistance from the European Community's 'cohesion fund'. Britain's inclusion in the 'Club Med' group of countries - Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain - is based on the decline in national income per head, which has sunk below 90 per cent of the EC average, the benchmark for club membership.

In spite of the theoretical right to EC assistance, Britain contributes more to the Community budget than it receives.