Notes From the Margins…

Pulling Together: Statistics

  • June 22, 2012
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Back in October 2010, in his first speech to a Tory party conference as PM, Cameron famously exhorted his party and the nation: ‘Come on: let’s pull together. Let’s come together. Let’s work together in the national interest.’

In his speech Cameron invoked his pet Big Society scheme or ‘passion’, as he sometimes referred to it, and promised to create a ‘ nation of doers and go-getters.   Where people step forward not sit back, where people come together to make life better.’

A few recent statistics are worth considering  give you an idea how well these ideas are panning out.

This week, a survey of 591 teachers carried out by the Guardian has found that  49% have taken food or fruit into school to give to children who have not had breakfast, so some people are definitely reaching out – even if the generosity of teachers does raise the question of why children are going hungry in one of the richest countries in the world.

Part of the reason could be explained by  the latest Legal and General MoneyMood survey, which found that some 3.3 million households were struggling to pay bills or sinking into debt in April this year, compared with 2.1 million in September 2011.  And there are also the findings of the Money Education charity Credit Action, which revealed  that on an average working day in 2011, Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales dealt with 8,518 new debt problems;  that 314 people were declared insolvent or bankrupt; and 105 properties were being  repossessed.

But even though we are all in the crisis together, not all of us are experiencing it in quite the same way.    In April the Sunday Times annual rich list found that the combined worth of the country’s 1,000 wealthiest people is £414bn, up 4.7% – the highest level since the 2008 financial crash.

And last year, the UK’s top bosses received average annual pay rises of 12%, even though the FTSE lost 6% of its value.

According to the TUC, £25 billion is lost every year through tax evasion, £12 billion of which consists of unpaid taxes by the 700 largest corporations.   In March this year shareholder dividends of major British corporations rose 19pc to a record £67.8bn, and even the Telegraph  worried that the failure to re-invest these profits might be harming the UK’s economic recovery, and noted

Corporate balance sheets are brimming with cash. According to official data, UK companies are tucking away about £70bn a year twice as much as before the crisis. Some analysts have estimated the total stash of cash under the corporate mattress at £750bn.

At a time when we are repeatedly told that the government has run out of money it’s also worth mentioning the fact that Rolls Royce  has just won a £1bn contract  to replace Britain’s four Vanguard nuclear submarines – an upgrade that is set to rise to £3 billion.

Earlier this year, Cameron pledged to ‘support the most vulnerable and needy’ when he presented the Coalition’s new Welfare Reform Bill.  Yet  last year a total of 1,942 disability hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – a 14 percent increase from  2010.   Disability hate crime has doubled since the 2008 crisis – an increase that many disability campaigners attribute to government ‘scrounger’ rhetoric.

All this isn’t quite what Lord Snooty and his Pals had in mind when they exhorted us all to wrap the nation in  a great big hug, but then again, maybe it was.  As Peter Tosh once observed ‘ some livin’ big but the most livin’ small.’

That’s how it was before the crisis, and that’s how it is now – only more so.

 

 

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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