Reduce the gap between rich and poor

{see also "more equal societies work better for everyone"}

I do not think everybody should get equal pay regardless of their contribution to society – not at all. There should be rewards for ability, dedication and success. But when a banker (for instance) gets a bonus of what might take a lower-paid worker 1,000 years to earn, that's crazy! And that’s in a year when he fails!

Leaving aside the super rich, Metro news (19 Sept 2010 qv) claims that "More than 38,000 public sector workers earn more than £100,000 a year ... Of these, 9,187 people earn more than prime minister David Cameron, who is paid £142,000 a year."! And even "Cabinet office minister Francis Maude said: 'You don't need to pay stupendous amounts to get good people'".

If you're not afraid of losing sleep, have a look at Tax payers Alliance – at least the interim Chief Executive (July - Dec 2012) is on 'only' £150,000! No wonder council tax is so high! But I don’t believe we can afford to pay individuals this amount of money – nor should we.

  • Are they doing a dangerous/risky job eg fireman/coastguards/mountain-rescue etc, risking their own lives to save others; military, miners, police, nuclear reactor decontaminators...?
  • Are they saving lives by many years of training and experience eg doctors, nurses, scientists...?
  • Are their work conditions uncomfortable eg sewage workers, toilet cleaners, posties out in the rain...?
  • Are they working inconvenient hours eg rescue services, oil rigs, shift workers...?
Well, actually, no!

You might think that we should pay a lot of money where 'the buck stops' but actually councils are not the same as companies. Company directors might go bust, lose their income, their house, even go to jail. That seems unlikely to happen to government officials. The jobs are not comparable, nor are the risks.

If the economy were booming, you might say we could afford it but the country’s £billions in debt and many families are struggling to make ends meet. Every £100,000 we pay to managers is £100,000 not spent on services!

If we show that good people can do a good job on a reasonable salary in Bristol, perhaps this will spread to the rest of the country and tax money can be better spent where it is needed.

Worse than you think?

The interim 2012 Chief Executive is being paid £150,000; this incurs about £49,884 tax and £7,248 NI, leaving a take-home of about £92,867.
An average Bristol salary is about £21,000, incurring tax of £2,579 and NI of £1608, leaving about £16,812.
If we say basic necessities (somewhere to live, food, clothes, etc) cost, say, £10,000pa then that leaves Mr/Ms Average with about £6,812 disposable and the Chief Exec. with £82,867 = the same amount of disposable funds as it would take Mr/Ms Average over 12 years to save! Doesn’t that seem a little too unbalanced?

What do I suggest?

I suggest reorganising the structure of Bristol City Council – not reducing the front line workers – but reducing the bureaucracy and some levels of management, reducing the cost to the taxpayer and spending more efficiently on the services that are needed, like:

  • care for the elderly and infirm
  • working for a greener future, utilising renewable energy sources
  • encouraging businesses and investment in Bristol
  • helping people get back into employment
  • spending Bristol’s money on more of Bristol’s people
Be at the forefront: How can we expect big business to share wealth more equitably unless public bodies take a lead and show it can succeed?