The rich to give 10% of their wealth to the poor this Christmas
Ho ho ho. Tis the season to be jolly and spread goodwill to all men. Why then does no-one believe the above headline is true? OK. It isn't true, but it would be if Stewart Lansley, author of 'The Cost of Inequality: Three Decades of the Super Rich' had his way.
It may be the title of his book. It may be that he writes for a website called ‘Left Foot Forward’, but all in all, I am getting a strong feeling that Mr. Lansley is not one of Dave’s best pals. In an incendiary, but might possibly be so mental it makes sense article, Lansley claims that Britain’s top 1,000 super-rich are sitting on fortunes that are collectively worth £250 billion more than in 2000. He also claims that corporate surpluses in the UK now stand at over £60 billion, around five per cent of the size of the economy.
Lansley’s plan is to use this money to kickstart the economy by transferring some of these surpluses to consumers and he is even claiming international approval for this idea. In a recent report entitled ‘Divided we Stand’, the OECD* has asked all nations to review their “tax systems to ensure that wealthier individuals contribute their fair share of the tax burden.” Lansley describes this as a ‘call to action’.
What he wants to do is levy a one-off emergency tax on company surpluses over a certain amount along with a wealth levy on the super-rich, quantified as those worth over £15 million. The money will then be doled out** to “all those in receipt of benefits”. He claims a “modest” tax of 10% would raise over £30 billion and would provide “rough justice” to those offering “squeals of outrage”.
While Lansley clearly sees himself as a modern day Robin Hood, and the idea of using some of the pots of cash sitting idly in some bank vault somewhere is quite attractive, particularly if it generates jobs and stimulates the economy, but is giving those on benefits a handy wedge going to do that? Wouldn’t they all just spend it on flat screen TVs and gold chains? And what about the people who work hard so they don’t need to claim benefits? Seems a bit unfair to penalise them for trying so hard?
Even assuming you could collect such a tax, where would the fair line be drawn between the haves and have nots. A nice idea, but lacking in substance perhaps? Bit like the Government really...
*Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Or something like that
** pun intended