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Britain: Also a NATION of have-nots - by Sofia Lotto Persio

The  richest 1 per cent of Britain’s population owns almost more than 20 times the total wealth of the poorest fifth, according to a shocking new report by Oxfam.

The charity’s findings show that around 634,000 of the wealthiest people are worth 20 times as much as the poorest 13 million — making Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

It also revealed that over half of the country’s wealth is concentrated in the richest 10 per cent of the population, while the poorest 20 per cent shares barely 0.8 per cent of Britain’s wealth between them.

Oxfam UK programme head Rachael Orr said: “The UK is one of the richest countries in the world, but it’s a nation divided into the haves and have-nots. While executive pay soars, one in five people live below the poverty line and struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table.”

The charity has put forward a four-point plan to shake-up corporate culture and stamp out inequality, including giving employees greater representation on company boards and ending tax avoidance and closing British-linked tax havens.

It has also suggested that the most highly paid person at a firm earn no more than 20 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker to help narrow the wage gap.

“Addressing the practices of unscrupulous business needs to be a central part of the government’s plans to even up the economy,” said Ms Orr.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady welcomed the report recommendations.

“There’s widespread support now for elected worker seats on company boards, including from the Prime Minister,” she said.

“It would make sure boardrooms focus on long-term success, which would encourage companies to invest in their staff and help working people to get fairer pay deals. It’s the right thing to do, so let’s make it happen.”Corporations’ role in amassing vast amounts of wealth was highlighted in a Global Justice Now study released yesterday, showing that corporations make up 69 per cent of the world’s 100 richest entities. US transnational retailer Walmart is worth more than Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.

Three Chinese state-owned companies — State Grid, China Petroleum and Sinopec Group — are bigger than the economy of South Korea.

In 2000, corporations already represented 51 per cent of the world’s top economic entities and this trend has increased relentlessly throughout the years.

Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said the British government has facilitated the rise in corporate power through tax structures, trade deals and even aid programmes that help big business.
“The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world’s problems,” he said.

“The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. These figures show the problem is getting worse.”

Read more: Morning Star :: Britain: a NATION of have-nots | The Peoples Daily

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