Dead Men Left

Monday, June 27, 2005

Salvation Army food parcels

A reminder about that tax credits scandal:

Citizens Advice said, in the most extreme cases, families had been threatened with repossession or eviction, and CAB staff had had to arrange Salvation Army food parcels for others because they did not have enough money left to eat.

Sam Dunn, in yesterday's Independent, contrasts the penny-pinching at the bottom end of society with the pampering at the top:

No handouts here - we're talking fine wines amassed in cellars over the years. In around 10 months from now, owners of these collections will be able to put them into self-invested personal pensions (Sipps) - where they will earn instant tax relief and boost the retirement funds of the wealthy. This is thanks to "A-Day" - a new plan that allows sophisticated investors to pull fancy levers to engineer better pensions.

From 6 April next year, these investors will also be able to squeeze buy-to-lets, their homes and even commodities such as gold into their Sipps - and again enjoy the tax relief.

But for the average worker, the treats on offer are less tantalising. Being able to place half your annual salary in a pension fund sounds great, but who can afford to do so in practice? What about finding the money for bills and mortgages?

This is all on Brown's watch. These schemes promoted and administered by his departments. As Dunn says of the Chancellor, "A man committed to society's less well-off should be able to tell that it stinks." Under New Labour, the richest 1% have doubled their wealth; the poorest 50% have seen their share of national wealth decline. Britain is now a more unequal society than under Margaret Thatcher.