So here we are again on the brink of end of lockdown, and this time we have a slightly better idea of what it means. But despite the good news about vaccines, the hope and cheer that accompanied our ease out of Lockdown1 has vanished. We have been told for months that many businesses have been on the verge of collapse, that financially 2021, already precarious due to Brexit, looked like something none of us could imagine. When the sun shines and the world keeps turning, even diminishing bank balances somehow don’t destroy hope.
The Arcadia group has gone into administration, and that move has meant the end of the line for Debenhams, already in administration, as much of the floor space in their stores was taken up by concessions from the Arcadia group. I have no regrets about Philip Green losing his empire, but for the 13,000 people suddenly facing possible unemployment, this is devastating. Add 12,000 from the Debenhams collapse, several thousand more from the group that owns Jaegar, Edinburgh Woolen Mill and Peacocks and the unemployment figures are going to rise and look as though they will continue to rise as more and more businesses fail.
Green was an asset stripper rather than a builder of businesses. He avoided paying tax in the UK by having much of his business registered in his wife’s name, a resident of Monaco. So far so familiar. He may feel he has lost a bit of face, but I doubt if he’ll be selling the yacht, or wondering if he can afford next week’s groceries.
Of all the things I should like to see a government of any colour do it would be to make tax avoidance a crime. It robs countries of their wealth. Don’t give me the spiel about these being the people who make the money and they are therefore somehow entitled to keep it. They have employees who make the money with and for them, and the employees, by and large, including those working in Amazon’s warehouses (Amazon avoids paying tax in the UK) pay taxes.
There was something the news tonight about government handouts, as though the government is being incredibly generous. Well the money comes from taxes which have been paid by people working here. So it is the honesty of taxpayers that is funding it. The amount the government is paying out is huge, but it is still peanuts compared to what is not paid into the tax system by those who circumvent the rules most of us play by. They circumvent them through using their money to employ accountants who are wise to every offshore/trust/hedge fund dodge. It may sound clever, but it’s a deeply selfish, deeply damaging tactic. I’d say it’s immoral. The UK is often referred to as a Christian country, particularly by those who embrace islamophobia, but a little more evidence of adhering to the gospels and ‘render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’ being practised by those who have would not come amiss.