New Internationalist

Fat-cats, tax and useful numbers

Will there be any red faces among Britain's senior bosses whose pay has gone up 55 per cent this year - regardless of whether their companies were doing well or not? Or their friends in government, always ready with that helping hand?

At £4.9 million a year the average FTSE 100 chief exec is now getting 200 times the national average salary of £25,000 per annum.

Meanwhile unemployed families receiving housing benefit have recently learned that, as part of the Con-Dem cuts, there will be a cap of £400 a week to their benefit. The predicted result is that hundreds of thousands will be 'socially cleansed' from high-rent cities like London.

The red faces, if there any, are more likely to be those of anger as the British public witness this spectacle of greed and inequity unfold in what is supposed to be 'an era of austerity'.

Here are a few more facts and figures that might be useful to have to hand when talking about the deficit:

£81 billion - the public spending cuts being rushed through by the Con-Dems

£88-120 billion - the cost to the British public of bailing out private banks

£81 billion - the public spending cuts being rushed through by the Con-Dems

£95 billion a year - the amount that rich tax dodgers (like Rupert Murdoch, like Sir Philip Green, like Vodafone) owe Britain. Add late payers and it comes to £120 billion. (Richard Murphy).

 £81 billion - the public spending cuts being rushed through by the Con-Dems

£76 billion - the money that could be saved by scrapping the Trident nuclear program.

 On tax dodgers, the action against Vodafone has already begun. Recently 65 activists stopped trading at Vodafone's largest retail store on Oxford Street, London, by blockading the doorway in disgust at a HM Revenue and Customs deal with Vodafone that has let them off a tax bill thought to be worth £6 billion.

What next? The empires of Philip Green (Top Shop, BHS, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Etam) or Murdoch (The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, Fox, Sky)?

 There are so many rich tax evaders and avoiders, they provide a wealth of possibility for citizen direct action - if little else.

 Meanwhile, for a bit of passion on the housing front, check out New York's redoubtable Jimmy McMillan of The Rent is Too Damn High http://nin.tl/dyVIgf

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About the author

Vanessa Baird a New Internationalist contributor

Vanessa Baird lived and worked as a journalist in Peru during the tumultuous mid-1980s, and she maintains a passionate interest in South America. She joined New Internationalist as a co-editor in 1986 and since then has written on everything from migration, money, religion and equality to indigenous activism, climate change, feminism and global LGBT rights. She also edits the Mixed Media, arts and culture section of the magazine.

Vanessa’s books include The No-Nonsense Guide to World Population (2011), Sex, Love and Homophobia (2004), The Little Book of Big Ideas (2009) and, People First Economics (2010). In 2012 she won a prestigious Amnesty International Human Rights Media award.

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