Can I just start this post by saying that I hate George Osborne and all that he represents? Thanks.
And that David Cameron.
I’d explain, but it’d make me depressed.
Maybe tomorrow. But just in case you are wondering, here’s a hint.
It was budget day today. Millionaires can sleep happy knowing their children will not pay inheritance tax on the first £100,000. After all they’ve earned it.
If your family does not have a million pounds in the bank, expect your meagre assets to be taken into account when your eligibility for any welfare benefit is assessed.
Those offspring of wealthy families have already probably benefited from the family millions. They may have attended fee-paying schools, where although there are question marks about the quality of the teaching being better than in their state counterparts, the classes are undoubtedly smaller, and the facilities usually better. At those same schools they will have made contacts that can be beneficial to them for the rest of their days. Not for nothing do we talk about the old school tie. They will have a sense of entitlement. I have a few friends who went through the public school system. Lovely people all, but their sense of having a right to things always amazes me. They also have a sense of being right; of knowing, in a way us state-educated folk cannot really know.
If you met me, I don’t doubt you’d think me as middle class as they come.
My family has been middle class in various degrees for a fair while. I can even claim aristocracy in my lineage. German aristocracy though, so it may not count.
None of this stopped my mother and her siblings growing up in poverty; running barefoot in the summer, and working in the fields before and after school.
By today’s standards, my own childhood was pretty poor too. But maybe one advantage of growing up in the post war years was that few had a huge amount of money, and it wasn’t until my teens that I realised the disparity between my home and others’.
My sister and I both had Saturday jobs from the week we were old enough to apply for them. I am not trying to show us as poor mouths, but this weekly income was for both of us, and for my family, essential. We bought our own toiletries, our own clothes, paid our bus fares, bought any extra books needed for our studies from our earnings. To say my wardrobe was small is a gross exaggeration.
I am not asking for retrospective sympathy. The point I am trying to make is that my sister and I materially contributed to the income of our home. We enabled our parents, neither of whom earned large salaries, to pay the mortgage.
In that we were not alone. In less well off families the income of each member contributes to the wellbeing of the whole.
So I would argue that it is the less well off whose inheritance should be protected. We made sacrifices in our teens to contribute to the home. There were no family holidays after I was eleven. I find it amazing now that I studied French at university. I had been to France precisely twice. Once on a trip arranged through school when I was thirteen; once when I was seventeen with money saved from my Saturday job.We begged out of date yoghurts from the local épicier so that ew would eat.
My nephew also studied French. He would probably struggle to remember how many holidays he spent in that country prior to his A levels.
There are so many talented people in this country. Talented people who end up doing jobs that in no wise allow them to develop those talents. For so many, there is no more freedom to grow and to blossom than there was for mediaeval serfs.
I’m not wishing for a repetition of the Black Death, but there has to be something that recognises the value of human beings whatever their social class and gives opportunities to all, not just those who can escape inheritance tax on the first £100,000.