Saturday, 7 July 2012

Who is really ripping-off taxpayers?

the3towns.com has revealed there are no fewer than nine vacancies advertised at the local Jobcentre that come with no wages. Instead, Jobseekers are told, “This is a self employed vacancy”.

The job ads continue, “The company has given an assurance that this vacancy enables workers to achieve a wage equivalent to the National Minimum Wage rate.” There is no guarantee a Jobseeker will achieve the minimum wage of £6.08 an hour, even if they work all the hours of the day. The companies’ get-out clause, should workers fail to make the equivalent of the minimum wage, would be that the individual was ‘not up to the job’.

In addition to working for commission only, potential workers are told they will require their own transport and to use their own mobile phones.

A number of the current vacancies are for sales positions: in two cases the products being sold are loans. One ‘loans job’ is based in Ardrossan and Saltcoats, the other in Irvine. People working for no wages, just commission, are expected to go door-to-door selling loans in these areas of high unemployment and poverty: the workers are also expected to collect payments.

These ‘vacancies’ raise two issues. Firstly, why is the Jobcentre – part of the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions – carrying ads for jobs that pay no wages and require workers to pay their own tax and National Insurance out of any commission they make from selling loans to people living in poverty?  Secondly, the Benefits Agency can stop payments to a Jobseeker who is deemed to be not ‘actively seeking work’: would benefits be stopped if anyone declined to apply for these ‘vacancies’?

the3towns’ revelations came in the same week the UK Tory-Lib Dem Government announced plans for ‘three strikes and you're out’ in relation to benefit fraud. Right-wing newspapers – such as the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Express and the Daily Telegraph – gleefully trotted-out stories about ‘spongers’ living the good life on ‘handouts’, and called for even tougher sanctions than the Government proposes. Some want lengthy jail terms and a lifetime ban from benefits for anyone caught claiming more than the amount to which they are entitled, even if it is done just once.

Headlines screamed about lazy, unemployed freeloaders costing us hard-working taxpayers ‘billions of pounds’ every year. In fact, the Department of Work and Pensions’ official figure for 2010/11, the last year for which full data is available, shows the total cost to the taxpayer of benefit fraud was £1.2bn. Now, that is not an insignificant sum, but it doesn’t come close to the figure for unclaimed benefits – money the Treasury saves because people don’t know they are entitled to it – which for the same year was £12.25bn.

In the same week we also discovered there is one particular family who actually do fleece hard-working taxpayers every year. Genuinely living off publicly-funded ‘handouts’, this bunch of freeloaders -just one family remember – cost us £32.2m last year, up by almost a quarter-of-a-million pounds from the previous twelve months. The head of the household – Mrs Betty Windsor - was in Glasgow last week, where a service of ‘thanks-giving’ was held in her honour. It’s a strange old world.

It’s also worth noting that £32.2m is the ‘official’ cost to taxpayers of funding the royal family. When ‘other’ costs are factored-in, such as round-the-clock security and world-wide travel, the real figure edges up to around £200m a year. How many nurses, doctors and police officers could we employ for £200m? How many real jobs, paying decent wages could be created for £200m?

Meanwhile, as the poorest members of society are hit with further cuts to desperately needed services, and are expected to apply for jobs that pay no wages, the seemingly never-ending story of bankers’ greed and criminality churned out yet more revelations.

Banks have been manipulating the rate at which they lend money to each other, an act that made some bankers extremely rich (even richer) and cost everyone else more for our mortgages, credit cards and loans.

As we know to our cost, bankers played a central role in the economic catastrophe that caused the global collapse of the capitalist system, but they were not alone. Other capitalists, directors and executives in boardrooms around the world, have been ripping us off for generations – ‘us’ being ordinary taxpayers and those unfortunate enough to be out of work.

Richard Murphy, an accountant who is also a director of a company called Tax Research LLP, has just published a report in which he used data sourced from the World Bank, the Heritage Foundation and World Health Organisation to show the level of tax evasion and avoidance by the wealthy.

Mr Murphy’s research revealed the annual amount of tax illegally evaded every year in the UK is just short of £70bn, with a further £25bn avoided in ‘legal’ schemes, such as the one in which comedian Jimmy Carr was involved. That is almost £100bn being stolen from us by the richest people in the country every single year.

If the fat-cats actually paid their fair share in taxation, there would be no need for ‘austerity measures’ leading to soaring unemployment, massively increased levels of poverty and deprivation, and standards of living being eroded to the lowest we have seen in over 30 years.

Instead of scapegoating the unemployed and those scraping-by on benefits, we should be hammering those who caused the current economic crisis – the criminal bankers, the tax evaders and avoiders, and the super-rich who freeload on public handouts.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo. Brilliant post. Totally agree with every word.

    We can only deal with this in an independent Scotland. The UK will never sort it.


    Have subscribed and put you on my blog roll.

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