Welfare Reform and Tax Havens

The following letter from our Chairman, Rev Paul Nicolson, was published in the current issue of the Church Times
Sir, — Lord Carey believes that “the public debt of £1 trillion is the greatest moral scandal facing Britain today” (News, 27 January). I suggest that there is another and greater.es.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that £11.5 trillion of cash and investments is parked in over­seas tax havens. The Sunday Times estimates that £100 billion of central-London property is registered overseas out of reach of the taxman. Private landlords have received billions in housing benefit every year, rising to about £7 billion in 2010, according to the Depart­ment for Work and Pensions.

None of those huge assets of wealthy groups of UK citizens are paying a penny towards deficit- reduction. That is being left to the squeezed middle and the poorest citizens with tax rises, pay- and pension-cuts in the public sector, and an estimated reduction of two per cent in every £50 of unemploy­ment benefit every year, owing to the change in uprating from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index in the emergency Budget in April 2011, as well as caps in housing benefit, hitting central-London tenants hard now, and the cap on the new Universal Credit due in 2013.

The greatest sadness that I feel about Lord Carey’s statement in the Daily Mail is in his complicity with the politics of turning the squeezed middle against the poorest citizens by denigrating benefit claimants with such phrases as that welfare “traps people into dependency . . . feckless­ness and irresponsibility”.

Welfare for the majority is a struggle to survive, while the debts become increasingly unmanageable, owing to low incomes and increasing prices. The poorest and the squeezed middle should unite in protest, and justified moral outrage, at the injustice of a deficit-reduction policy that hits them hard and the richest not at all.

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