'We’re talking about people who have billions, you could never spend it in a lifetime'
An audience member on BBC Question Time last night offered a perfect summary of the wealth inequality in Britain as a result of the government’s politically motivated economic choices.
The comment came after a question on the show which asked, “is it a bit rich, for the rich, to tell us to accept being poorer?”.
This was in response to an insensitive, to say the least, remark earlier this week by the Bank of England’s Chief Economist Huw Pill who said Britons, need to accept being poorer.
The audience member asked why it was that the most vulnerable people in society are having to pay the price for cost inflation, whilst the rich can continue getting richer.
He spoke on behalf of all those who felt disenfranchised by the government’s economic choices over the past decade, which have left his generation living for most of their adult lives under austerity.
The audience member said: “We were told after the last financial crash 10 years ago ‘you have to put up with no pay rises’, so it’s been 10 years on and my generation, I would have graduated in 2010, we’ve never had a pay rise in-line with inflation. People are putting off having families, buying homes, all that stuff.
“The other part is looking at the consequences of these political decisions, if for example you put the burden of tax on the most vulnerable they are going to have to choose between doing very extreme things, such as ‘do I buy my medication or do I buy food’.
“If you put the tax burden on the very rich, it’s like, ‘ok I have a slightly smaller bank balance at the end of the year’, but you’re still rich.
“And when I say rich, I don’t mean people on £100,000 or £200,000, we’re talking about people who have billions, you could never spend it in a lifetime, you could never spend it in ten lifetimes.
“Why is that you’re then putting the burden on people who have no money, it just doesn’t make sense.”
One viewer wrote, ‘give this guy a medal’ whilst another said, ‘this guy on bbcqt totally nails it.’
In defence of the government’s economic policy to date, Rachel Maclean, Conservative minister for housing and levelling up, said the government, “recognises that times are tough” and went on to blame the global pandemic and war in Ukraine, however said it was “nothing to do with Brexit” when questioned further, to much audience amusement.
Maclean added that prioritising getting inflation down was how the government planned to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.
Lisa Nandy, shadow secretary for levelling up and housing, said on the show the truth was, “that this is about political choices”, saying that inequality could be tackled by having a windfall tax and ending non-dom tax status.
In 2020, the ONS calculated that the richest 10% of households in Britain hold 42% of all wealth, whilst another audience member pointed out that there are 20% more billionaires in the country now than before the pandemic.
Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward
(Photo credit: BBC Question Time / Screenshot)
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