Socialist Worker

Cameron gives the Green light to big spending cuts

Issue No. 2215

The Tories and the right wing media are combining to ensure the poor pay while the rich get off in the recession.

David Cameron has appointed billionaire Topshop retail boss Sir Philip Green to advise the government on how best to slash public spending. Unsurprisingly, big business has welcomed Green’s appointment.

Green’s clever management of his tax affairs has allowed him to avoid paying millions of pounds in tax every year.

The “Green Monster”, as he is known by staff at his Arcadia group, will lead a review to scrutinise public spending over the past three years in order to identify “waste”.

He is reporting to Cameron before the 20 October spending review in which chancellor George Osborne will announce even greater public service cuts.

Arcadia owns more than 2,000 shops in Britain, including the BHS and Topshop chains. In 2009 it made pre-tax profits of £213.6 million.

Although Green spends his working week in Britain, his business empire is mostly owned by his wife Tina Green. She lives in Monaco, where Green spends his weekends.

The Green household relocated to the tax haven in 1998—a move that saved them hundreds of millions of pounds in tax.

Green paid his family a £1.2 billion dividend in 2005—and lucky Lady Tina was able to receive this tax-free because she is an official resident of Monaco.

When questioned about this, Green said, “My wife’s not a tax exile—my family do not live in the United Kingdom. It’s somewhat different.”

The “somewhat different” arrangement has civil service workers fuming.

Their PCS union is opposing government cuts, instead demanding that the government should concentrate on recovering the £120 billion in unpaid, evaded and avoided tax each year.

That could remove the need for any cuts.

Meanwhile, the Sun newspaper last week launched a “war on benefit cheats”.

It wants its readers to grass up those it says are part of “Britain’s out-of-control handouts culture”.

Here are some of Socialist Worker’s suggestions:

How about Stephen Hester, chief executive of the bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland? His pay shot up 648.2 percent in 2010 to £1.3 million.

Or Michael Geoghegan, boss of HSBC, who bagged a bonus of £4 million on top of his

£1.07 million “basic” salary—a total rise of over 240 percent from 2009.

It’s not just bankers who are rolling in cash. Overall the average pay package of Britain’s top bosses went up by £500,000 last year, from £2.5 million to £3 million.

But average pay—which includes bonuses, and the top bosses’ and bankers’ pay, went up just 1.3 percent over last year—less than the rate of inflation.

The Sun is lending a helping hand to David Cameron as he slashes public services by attacking those struggling on benefits, while the real scroungers at the top cash in. But then, nasty cuts always need to be justified by nasty lies.

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Tue 17 Aug 2010, 18:05 BST
Issue No. 2215
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