Osborne’s shamelessness knows no bounds. Having generated the most polarised society in class terms since the Edwardian era, he has the gall now to be focusing Tory electoral appeal on a brazen tax giveaway confined to the extremely rich. It’s an outrage that with only 50 days to the election he’s now giving notice that, if re-elected, the Tories will cut the inheritance tax bill on properties worth up to £2 million by £140,000. This will be overwhelmingly concentrated on estates in London and the South-East, when at the same time there are now a fifth of the population living below the official poverty line of around £240 a week (depending on household size). For Osborne it is the southern propertied middle classes that matter, not the northerners who have been forced out of their homes in which they may have lived for 30 years or more by the hated bedroom tax.
Only the 4.9% wealthiest persons pay inheritance tax, so this is a tax bribe limited to the top 5%. It’s a big bribe too when the present inheritance tax threshold for married couples is already £650,000, and Osborne is proposing to raise this to £1 million. By 2020 this will remove 22,000 rich families from inheritance tax altogether and offer a huge reduction for those with the most expensive properties. This enormous tax giveaway will cost taxpayers nearly £1bn – a sum that could have been far more equitably expended on raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour or (better still) fixing it at two-thirds of the average wage, or providing free bus passes for all under-25s to help their search for jobs, or capping rents.
This Tory resurrection of Victorian/Edwardian class society now boasts at one end of Martin Sorrell, boss of the advertising conglomerate WPP, paying himself £36 millions this year (£692,308 a week!) and Shell’s CEO taking home £17 millions (£326,923 per week), at the same time as at the other end 6.5 million persons in work are paid so little that they are officially categorised as being in poverty. There are still nearly 2 million people unemployed on job-seekers’ allowance, a million of whom in this last year have been ‘sanctioned’ (i.e. deprived of all their benefit income for 4 weeks or 3 months) for trivial failings (e.g. being 5 minutes late for an appointment – compare that with the bankers getting off scot-free), and over a million people compelled largely because of government-enforced sanctioning to depend on foodbanks for their survival.
This is a disgusting reversal of all moral principles – stuff the mouths of the richest with gold, and kick the poor into oblivion.