England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Super-rich exploiting furlough: Stop big business leeching

Last week saw shocking revelations that the super-rich and the far-right racist British National Party have exploited the furlough scheme in order to claim millions of pounds of taxpayer-funded money. 

Although the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was ostensibly set up to avoid mass unemployment and to provide financial support to 750,000 struggling small businesses, millions of pounds have instead ended up in the hands of the wealthy elite. Among those who have received public money under this scheme are Saudi royals and billionaires in tax exile.

Since the government published information on claimants under the scheme last month, analysis of this information by The Guardian newspaper has revealed that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been claimed and received by super-rich beneficiaries. The list of claimants includes the ruler of Dubai Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, tax exile Guy Hands, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Blair, members of the oppressive Saudi royal family, as well as the owners of The Ritz hotel and Harrods department store. 

Another claimant named is billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, formerly the wealthiest man in the UK, who claimed £175,000 through his three businesses. Ratcliffe, who is currently living in the tax haven of Monaco, is clearly all too happy to reap the rewards of a welfare system that he refuses to pay a penny into. Multi-millionaire Conservative donor and former party chairman Lord Ashcroft also claimed £20,000 through two of his businesses. 

Whether overseas or in Britain, these super-rich capitalists are not only completely undeserving of this funding, but are actively taking this money away from those who desperately need it for survival. The revelations that beneficiaries include the manufacturer of Grenfell Tower’s cladding and Adam Walker, leader of the BNP, only add insult to injury for working class people. 

This money should have been used to support the struggling working people of this country during a crisis that they did not create. Instead, it has ended up making the billionaires who exploit these workers (many of whom are overseas) even richer, as well as funding a far-right political party that currently holds no seats in Parliament. 

It should come as no surprise that billionaire capitalists will take every opportunity—regardless of legality or ethics—to extract wealth by any means necessary. That has always been the modus operandi of the capitalist class. Not only must we call for transparency around public funding and demand that the abusers of this scheme be held accountable, but we must also organise against the capitalist system that fundamentally enables and incentivises this exploitation. This means nationalising and bringing into democratic public ownership the gigantic corporations that dominate our economy.

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