The Sunday Times Rich List is always a sickening read. A who’s-who of Britain and Ireland’s biggest exploiters, heirs and speculators – scroungers of the worst kind.
This year these fat cats’ combined wealth amounts to almost £450 billion. That’s an increase of more than £35 billion from last year, and is nearly ten times the joint fortune of those who made the first list in 1989.
Topping this year’s list is Russian iron ore tycoon Alisher Usmanov with £13.3 billion. His wealth alone would be enough to cover the extra £10 billion welfare cuts that George Osborne announced at the end of 2012, the £2.5 billion cuts he announced in his March budget and the ‘savings’ expected from the bedroom tax.
Other high fliers include the Duke of Westminster with £7.8 billion made from property, Virgin’s Richard Branson with £3.5 billion and tax avoiding retail boss Philip Green and his wife with £3.8 billion.
So the rich get richer again. Surely then, this wealth must have ‘trickled down’. What’s good for them is good for the economy and so good for the rest of us. Or not.
Unemployment in the UK increased by 70,000 in the three months to February. A big factor behind the rise was that those previously ‘economically inactive’ (mainly stay-at-home mothers) have been forced to look for work because of cuts to welfare. The number of young people out of work rose by 20,000.
At the same time average wages were up just 0.8% in comparison to prices rising by 3.3% – meaning most people can afford less with their income, an effective pay cut.
Even the usually austerity-loving International Monetary Fund recently had to point out to the Con-Dems that ‘Plan A’ isn’t working.
Enriching the super-rich by helping them drive down wages and conditions and avoid tax isn’t leading to growth of us because they’re not even investing it – £850 billion is sitting idle in the UK accounts of big business.
The Socialist Party calls for an immediate one-off 50% levy on this hoarded cash. We say take the wealth off the 1% and use it for jobs, homes and services for the 99%.