Sunday, 23 February 2014

Inequality, Inequality, Inequality ...

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian addresses the inequality in British Society. It will be as follows:

I have a strong belief we should do all that we can to build a more equal and just society.

But the newspapers and the news on radio or television are full of evidence of the inequality throughout British society.

A number of Anglican bishops, Chairs of Methodist Districts and prominent Quakers have come together to launch what has been described as an “unprecedented attack” on the Conservative-led Coalition.

Standing up for the less-well-off, they have condemned the Coalition’s welfare cuts which they said had left many “facing hunger and hardship,” adding that the Prime Minister had a “moral duty” to tackle the growing number of families struggling to put food on the table.

In a joint letter, these religious leaders said: “Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry. We must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.”

They also noted that: “Half a million people had visited foodbanks since last Easter, while 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.”

Contrast that to what else has been in the news in the last few days.

A number of British banks are considering awarding bonuses of share options worth many millions of pounds to their Chief Executives in future years, in order to circumvent an EU cap on bankers’ bonuses. One report stated that certain bankers even had the ability to earn 700% of the value of their already high salaries in additional bonuses.

There has also been outrage at the news that a former BBC presenter was caught claiming to be a second-hand car dealer so that he could avoid paying £400,000 in tax! Apparently, it was part of a “highly complicated Working Wheels tax avoidance scheme” that has also attracted the attention of another 450 extremely rich individuals.

And then there was the announcement that Manchester United had agreed a new five-and-a-half year contract with Wayne Rooney, for which he will be paid £300,000-a-week.

I simply do not believe that it can be right that so many people in communities across the United Kingdom are struggling while doing worthwhile jobs at the minimum wage of £6.31 (£252.40 for a 40 hour week) – when a footballer, however skilled, gets 1,188-times as much. And that is not even including his sponsorship deals! 

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