The “Sunday Times Rich List” is one of those annual publications it’s impossible to ignore, despite one’s better instincts. My profound inclination is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it and let the super and often filthy rich read about themselves without long-time lefties getting in on the act.
However, this year there are important things to say about the very rich, the most important being their utter selfishness. My understanding has always been that the Tory-led coalition and David Cameron in particular wanted the rich to give to charity in order to make the “big society” work. Fat chance that the fat cats will cough up. According to the “Rich List”, which is compiled in conjunction with the Charities Aid Foundation, charitable spending and donations to trusts are down by £818 million this year. But it’s not all bad in that the number of multimillionaires giving more that £1m to good causes has risen from last year’s 118 to 129 this time.
Yet the fact that 11 more very rich people – a minuscule increase if ever there was one – gave over £1m to those less fortunate than themselves is quite simply not enough to get even the remotest concept of the “big society” off the ground. David Cameron is hoping pigs may fly, but it’s becoming ever clearer that the very rich kind have no intention of so doing.
Charitable giving has gone down, so there will be less provision for those in need. At the same time the public sector is being cut, again hitting the poor and disadvantaged. While I, a former charity Chief Executive, deeply regret the decline in donations, it’s the cuts in public services which will really bite. Charities can, at best, only plug the gaps and maybe come up with some good ideas. It’s local authorities, the health service and other public bodies who provide the universal service on which the vast majority of us rely one way or another.
So, woe betide anyone who is sick, unemployed or has a disability in Cameron’s Britain. Those who need our support are finding it is fast disappearing into a cloud of millionaires – those who run our country and those who refuse to give up just a small proportion of their lavish lifestyles. Shame on all of you and shame on our country for allowing this to happen.