Thursday, 4 October 2012

Everyone deserves fair treatment

When Nick Clegg recently called for the Conservatives to back a wealth tax there were some Tories who suggested that there was no need for any further redistribution of wealth. You often hear about a brain drain and maybe some people do leave the country because of slight changes in the rate of taxation, but I can't see this being top of their list.

I also heard comments along the lines that high earners deserved their money because they worked hard for it. The trouble with this argument is that everyone works hard. You used to be able to make jokes like how many council workers does it take to plant a flower - three. Two to lean on spades and one to do the planting. You can't make jokes like this now because they are all working. Many people work very hard on minimum wage.

There may well be extra pressures on those who hold greater responsibility and this may be a factor in them deserving extra pay. These extra pressures sometimes make the news. Three senior civil servants were suspended following the West Coast rail fiasco but the trouble is that it could turn out that they receive full pay and then return to normal duties. I wrote about the minister at the heart of the fiasco in my last blog entry and she seems to have made a side step to avoid responsibility. We hear today that the head of the Rochdale Social Services has resigned having missed opportunities to protect children in the sex abuse scandal. There were calls for sackings but this manager managed to get promoted and now leaves with 'many fond memories' despite last week's damning report. In all these cases the extra authority does not seem to relate to extra responsibility, but this hasn't affected their pay.

The point is that many of those who are well paid do not receive the same treatment as those whose work is more mundane, and everyone deserves fair treatment. Jimmy Carr can tell you how a good accountant can help those who can afford their service. We don't need to protect the wealthy. They can look after themselves, even if they do work hard.

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