Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/387/4377
Rich are getting richer...
PRESS REPORTS say average household incomes may have dropped by 0.2% last year. Other reports say around 2.6 million children are still living in poverty. But Britain's super-rich are grinning all over their faces!
According to the new Sunday Times (ST) rich list, they've seen "their wealth soar into the stratosphere" in the past year. The richest 1,000 are now 'worth' a record £250 billion, that's 23.3% up on last year!
What's more, when Blair came to power in 1997 the wealth of the richest 1,000 was a 'mere' £99 billion. So in eight years of New Labour government, the super-rich have seen a 152% increase in wealth!
The ST says that Britain is now the best place in the world to make money. Rich list's number one, Indian born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, made his money exploiting workers in India and Indonesia. He now has greedy fingers in pies worldwide from USA to China. His wealth went up from £3.5 billion to £14.8 billion through mergers and takeovers.
Britain's second richest is Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, whose £7 billion fortune came mainly from privatising Russian oil. Then comes the Duke of Westminster (£5.6 billion). This blue-blooded property developer owns much of central London.
...but hide trillions to avoid tax
THE WORLD'S millionaires are hiding a staggering $11.5 trillion ($11,500 billion) of assets in 'offshore' companies to avoid paying taxes. That's equal to ten times Britain's GDP put into offshore tax havens.
They make this incredible fortune but pay no tax on it. The Tax Justice Network found out that worldwide, these assets earn the world's richest individuals an astonishing $860 billion each year. So even in today's rich-friendly tax regimes, governments annually miss out on $255 billion of lost taxes!
That's without looking at the vast fortunes that multinational corporations lock away in the 63 tax havens, many in British protectorates or former colonies.
Tax avoidance costs Britain's Treasury up to £85 billion a year - that's considerably more than Britain spends on the NHS. In 2001, reporters worked out that if billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp Investments had paid corporation tax in Britain at the then going rate of 30%, the government would have got £350 million over 11 years.
That could have built seven new hospitals, 50 secondary schools or 300 primary schools. As it was, Murdoch paid virtually nothing. He celebrated recently by buying a £22 million luxury residence opposite Central Park in Manhattan and a house in Beijing.
The Socialist Party supports any moves that try to impose progressive taxation - that's where the rich pay more tax than the workers and middle class!
But if the capitalists threaten a 'strike of capital' to stop this, as they often threaten to do, we would fight to take these rich individuals' companies into public ownership and build a socialist society that could really start to change things.
In The Socialist 7 April 2005: