It’s time to take a stand against Britain’s shameful inequality

And this involves taxing the wealthiest more

 

You need look no further than the past week’s news for evidence of the shameful levels of inequality in Britain today.

In the same week that the Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest food bank organisation, announced that the number of food bank users has increased by 19 per cent since last year – bringing the number forced to turn to emergency food-aid in 2014-15 to almost 1.1million –  the Sunday Times Rich List revealed that the collective wealth of Britain’s wealthiest has more than doubled in the last ten years. The most well-off 1,000 individuals and families now have a combined fortune of just over £547bn, more than the poorest 40 per cent of households combined.

Not only does the media fetishise and idealise the wealth of these billionaires, but it also demonises and vilifies those who are struggling. A report last week investigating changing attitudes to poverty illustrated how increasingly these viewpoints are becoming endemic within our society – encouraging people to vilify those most in need.

The media and politicians are cultivating cruel attitudes – condemning the poor as lazy and incompetent and heralding extreme wealth as an emblem of success. They forget that people who are in poverty or struggling on low incomes are there because our economy is rigged against those with the least. Social mobility in the UK is falling. Those born wealthy are likely to remain so, while those born into poverty are finding it harder and harder to make their way.

It does not have to be this way.

We don’t have to live in a society which allows the poorest to bear the brunt of a financial crisis they played no part in creating, or which we tax the bedrooms of some of the most vulnerable members of our community. It is time to take a stand and create the kind of society – the kind of Britain – that we want. A society and an economy that works for the benefit of all.

We are not afraid to say this involves taxing the wealthiest more. We will increase taxation on the wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, taking the most from those more able to pay to fund the services from which we all benefit. We pledge to introduce a wealth tax of 2 per year on the top 1 per cent. We will invest in HMRC to ensure it has the resources required to collect the tax that is owed. We will increase corporation tax from 20 per cent to 30 per cent (small businesses would remain on 20 per cent). We will raise the top rate of income tax to 60 per cent.

With this money we will invest in social security and public services to create a society that supports the needs and aspirations of us all. We will immediately end health service austerity, and increase the NHS budget by £12bn a year. We will provide free social care for the elderly, to ensure everyone has access to the care they need. We will abolish tuition fees for higher education and introduce free universal childcare.

We want to create a Britain that cares. We can rebuild our economy to ensure that nobody’s future is defined by their postcode, or the profession of their parents. But to do this we need to be brave, and we need to be bold. That’s why I’m proud to be leading the Green Party into this election – with a promise to the British people that Greens will always fight for an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

Natalie Bennett is the leader of the Green Party. Follow her on Twitter

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