Wednesday, July 08, 2015

£93 billion

That's the scale of corporate welfare in the UK, according to an analysis by the Guardian:

Taxpayers are handing businesses £93bn a year – a transfer of more than £3,500 from each household in the UK.

The total emerges from the first comprehensive account of what Britons give away to companies in grants, subsidies and tax breaks, published exclusively in the Guardian.

Many of the companies receiving the largest public grants over the past few years previously paid little or zero corporation tax, the analysis shows. They include some of the best-known names in Britain, such as Amazon, Ford and Nissan. The figures intensify the pressure on George Osborne, the chancellor, just as he puts the finishing touches to his budget. At the heart of Wednesday’s announcement will be his plans to cut £12bn more from the social welfare bill.

Yet that sum is less than the £14.5bn given to companies in direct subsidies and grants alone.

And to put this total in context, its an eighth of the total UK government budget, and more than the UK spends on education. Removing it and making these tax-cheating corporations pay their own way would instantly balance the government's books - or erase the Tories' cuts to health and welfare. And yet, we're told that it is poor people in need, rather than rich tax-cheats sticking their hand out, who are the problem.

Perhaps the data-journalists at the Herald could do a similar analysis for New Zealand?