Automation likely to hit UK's poorest hard: IPPR

The rise of the machine economy risks social disruption as it widens the gap between rich and poor in the UK, even as automation threatens jobs generating £290 billion in wages.

The study by the UK think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has revealed that jobs accounting for a third of annual pay in the UK are at risk of being automated. The study further warned that low-paid roles faced the greatest risk. It  urged ministers to head off the prospect of increased inequality by helping people retrain and share in the benefits from advances in technology.

The study for the IPPR's commission on economic justice, featuring senior executives and public figures including the archbishop of Canterbury, urged the government to play a greater role in managing the adoption of robotics, artificial intelligence and other methods of job automation in the workforce.

Mathew Lawrence, a senior research fellow at the IPPR, said, ''Managed badly, the benefits of automation could be narrowly concentrated, benefiting those who own capital and highly skilled workers. Inequality would spiral," The Guardian reported.

According to the IPPR 44 per cent of jobs in the UK economy could feasibly be automated, equating to over 13.7 million people who together earn about £290 billion.

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a centre-left think tank, automation would transform, not eliminate most jobs.

Automation could raise UK productivity growth by between 0.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent annually, and boost economic growth.

"Our analysis shows that jobs with the potential to be automated are associated with £290bn of wages each year," said research fellow Carys Roberts, BBC reported.

"Much of this will be replaced through increased wages due to higher productivity and new jobs created, but a substantial portion could also be transferred from wages to profits."

She added, "Within that, some people will get a pay rise, while others are trapped in low pay, low productivity sectors."