“We don’t pay taxes. Only little people pay  taxes.” Leona Helmsley, wealthy widow of a  New York property tycoon *

SchNEWS reckons it’s time to point  out the bleedin’ obvious – it’s  always Christmas time for the super- rich and the multinational corpora- tions. Under Neo Labour those with  the most cash have doubled their  money. A report on inequality from  the Office for National Statistics  shows that the top 1% increased their  share of national wealth from 20% to  23% in the first six years of the  Labour government. The top ten per  cent of Britain now owns an incredible 54% of the wealth.

Meanwhile Chief Executive (CEO)  pay is out of control. In the UK it  rose 25 per cent a year from 1983 to  2002 – no matter how a company was  performing. If a CEO remained in  post for seven years, he (and it is  always a he) could expect to see his  salary double – twice. CEOs now  pocket around 50 times as much as  ordinary employees. In fact, a new  paper from business school academics  reckon that “corporate managers are  somewhat like landed aristocracy in  the 19th century, or political elites of  the Third World” with their pay far  outstripping their contribution to the  company or the country.

Office cleaner Abdul Durrant stood  up at HSBC annual general meeting in  June and asked if cleaners at the  bank’s Canary Wharf headquarters  could be paid more than £5 an hour.  It was not, he said, enough to live on.  HSBC Bank chief executive William  Aldinger didn’t answer – and why  should he care. He has a £37 million  three-year package to live on, as well  as free dental and medical treatment  for life.

Not that you’ll read about this in the  corporate media where it’s divide and  rule. You skint? Then blame those  poorer than you. So The Sun runs  another ‘Shop a Skiver’ campaign but  forgets to nominate its owner Rupert  Murdoch. In 1999 The Economist  reported that Murdoch had made £1.4  billion in profits over the previous 11  years but had paid no corporation tax.  After an examination of what was  available of the accounts, it reckoned  Murdoch would normally have  expected to pay enough tax to “build  seven new hospitals, 50 secondary  schools or 300 primary schools”.

Or what about Richard Desmond,  owner of Express Newspapers, who  paid himself £46.2m last year. Yet his  papers run a relentless campaign  against asylum seekers and how they  are bleeding the country dry.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is  based in the Caribbean – yet since  privatisation, Virgin Trains have  received £1.57 billion in public  subsidies. That’s taxpayers’ money, for  someone who pays hardly any tax, for  a service that is crap.


Corporation tax under Labour has  now reached an all time low. When  corporation tax falls, guess who the  burden falls on – yep, the ‘little  people’. Minutes of an Inland Revenue  meeting revealed the agency was going  soft on multinational tax returns for  fear of driving investment away from  the UK. They might be a bit late – a  1997 report by accountant Deloitte  and Touche put the figure for legal  avoidance alone at a staggering £85  billion a year. That’s more than is  annually spent on the National Health  Service. A leading accountancy expert,  Professor Prem Sikka reckons that  billions are lost by multinationals  basing themselves in tax havens. No  one really knows the figures, because  the Professor says “the Treasury  refused to undertake detailed research  to get accurate estimates. It is dodging  the issue.”

So, what does Chancellor Gordon  Brown do? In his last budget speech,  he promised to deal with tax cheats,  and then announced 40,500 jobs  would go at the Inland Revenue and  Customs and Excise! The Inland  Revenue has already faced massive  redundancies in the nineties which  journalist Nick Davies said had meant  government’s efforts to catch tax  avoiders had “collapsed in a heap of  mismanagement and staff cuts.” It  avoids rubbing the corporations and  the super-rich up the wrong way by  refusing to release its figures on  enforcement.

So while we hear about how the  government is trying to crack down  on benefit cheats – such as people  washing up one night a week in a  restaurant for a few extra quid to  supplement their crap dole money –  they refuse to go after fat cats like  Murdoch.

When you hear about another fraud  hotline or politicians bleating that we  can’t afford decent pensions, wages,  new hospitals, schools, social housing  etc., remember it’s the business tax  dodgers and corporate scroungers that  are to blame. Britain is the fourth  richest country in the world – the only  belt tightening should be round the  corporate cowboys’ necks!

* Helmsley eventually went to prison  for tax evasion!


Jarvis, the cash strapped corporation  that bit off more Private Finance  Initiatives than they could chew, can’t  be allowed to go bankrupt despite  debts of £240 million. Who says? The  banks that lent them the money in the  first place!

The bankers, principally Royal Bank  of Scotland and Barclays, are worried  that if Jarvis go down the pan, they  would be forced to take over many of  the firms’ projects, including schools,  hospitals and road programmes which  Jarvis are running under the joke  privatisation-by-the back-door-Initiative.

The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust  in north London is one Jarvis PFI  hospital project where work recently  stopped. They say that the banks are  ultimately responsible for ensuring the  multi-million-pound facility is completed.

Next month, the Crown Prosecution  Service will decide whether to press  charges against Network Rail and  Jarvis for alleged health and safety  breaches following the Potters Bar rail  crash** over two years ago, in which  seven people died and dozens more  were injured.

Looks like they will get away with  financial incompetence, will they get  away with murder as well?

** Senior executives at Jarvis were  given £1 million pound bonuses  during the year of the crash.

*** Polyp’s new book “The Complete  if Ordinary People Behaved Like...” is  out now, you can order your copy  from

– from schnews Friday 17th December 2004 Issue 478  Tel +44 (0)1273 685913 Email [email protected]