Haves & have nots


This week it was reported by an independent think tank, the High Pay Centre, (which does seem to be cross-party) that Britain suffers poverty & inequality at levels last seen in Victorian times.

Even though our richest people enjoy some of the highest salaries in Europe with the top 20% of UK households having an average disposable income of £31,670 a year – similar to France and Germany – the lowest 20% have an average disposable income of £5,506 and are the poorest in western Europe, comparable to Slovenia & the Czech Republic.

It is always worth bearing in mind just how wide a range of incomes the top 20% covers, and that the chart below only shows income on which is tax is paid – money hidden in offshore accounts are not included.

Data from HMRC – Percentile points of the income distribution as estimated from the Survey of Personal Incomes (only includes individuals who pay some income tax)

Deborah Hargreaves, a director at the Centre says “These figures suggest we need to be more concerned about inequality and how prosperity is shared, as well as average incomes or aggregate measures like GDP. The fact that the rich are richer in the UK than many other countries hides the fact that the poor are poorer.”

In the same week this report was issued, it was the first birthday of the Queen’s great-granddaughter, Princess Charlotte.  During a time when 1 in 4 British children live in poverty, this toddler’s birthday presents were listed in the media including a £30,000 18k white gold rattle studded with diamonds, rubies and sapphires.

Now I am a republican, and whilst I wish the Windsors were no longer a drain on the public purse I cannot blame them for the stupid things people give them. However if I were them and officially trying to bring up my children in a “low-key” way I would make damn sure that it was widely known that gifts like this would not be accepted and that any given would be auctioned off and given to children’s charities.

To be honest once I stopped going “WHAT!” I actually thought what a selfish gift it is.  It is a tasteless display by an American  company who must think giving it to the British Royal family is a good advert. This child will have a lifetime of bloody stupid and inappropriate gifts because of the family she was born into. Is it any wonder they grow up to have no idea what it is like for the majority of the country.

The rattle itself – if it looks like the one in the article – is god-awful ugly.  It will never be played with, she will never chew on it or hit her older brother over the head with it. I imagine the Obamas’ gifts of jigsaw and cuddly toy dog will probably get a lot more use.

This is not a plea for sympathy for the royals, but the fuss over this birthday less than a fortnight after the sycophancy of the Queen’s shows how cut off our media also are from the majority of the public.

Instead of reporting this inequality and highlighting the problems our society face, they try to distract with the modern equivalent of bread and circuses. Right now they are failing their audiences.




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