Corporate Benefits Street – featuring Britain’s state-endorsed oligarchy

Cameron's real changeGeorge Monbiot has analysed the rhetoric of the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, who claimed that business is under political attack on a scale it has not faced since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Speaking at the Institute of Directors, he was introduced with the claim that “we are in a generational struggle to defend the principles of the free market against people who want to undermine it or strip it away”.

No, Digby: only concerned electors, Greens and Plaid Cymru are calling for greater restraints on corporate power

Monbiot adds that a few days before, while introducing Osborne at the Conservative party conference, Digby Jones, former head of the CBI, warned that companies are at risk of being killed by “regulation from ‘big government’” and of drowning “in the mire of anti-business mood music encouraged by vote-seekers”. Monbiot asks:

“Where is that government and who are these vote-seekers? They are a figment of his imagination” adding that all Labour can say is “us too”.

Legal strait-jackets

ttip cartoonAfter warning against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, “steered by business lobbyists” and noting the practice of writing in very costly penalty clauses into outsourcing contracts with corporates, he cites the example of one being negotiated with the probation service: “if a future government seeks to cancel these contracts (Labour has said it will) it would have to pay the companies the money they would otherwise have made over the next 10 years. Yes, 10 years. The penalty would amount to between £300m and £400m”.

Corporates enjoy windfalls everywhere as companies are assisted to capture essential public services – water, energy, trains

david cameron pmqMonbiot continues: “Think of the massive state subsidies quietly being channelled to the private train companies. When Cameron told the Conservative party conference “there’s no reward without effort; no wealth without work; no success without sacrifice”, he was talking cobblers.

“Thanks to his policies, shareholders and corporate executives become stupendously rich by sitting in the current with their mouths open”.

In effect the public is a sitting duck – saddled with heavy charges set out in detail at great length by James Meek – that they are forced to pay.

Monbiot summarises: “Through a lobbying industry and a political funding system, successive governments have failed to reform, corporations select and buy and bully the political class to prevent effective challenge to their hegemony. Any politician brave enough to stand up to them is relentlessly hounded by the corporate media. Corporations are the enemy within”.

In the Guardian on Monday Aditya Chakrabortty had written about a very congenial silence – for the CBI and business lobby groups – at the very centre of our democracy.


“The bill for corporate welfare is huge – and largely hidden. We know a lot about the people who claim social welfare: we know how much each benefit costs the public, but corporate welfare? The government has itself acknowledged: “There is no definitive source of data about spending on subsidies to businesses in the UK.

kevin farnsworth“Farnsworth has achieved something extraordinary: he has yanked into the open an £85bn subsidy that big business and the government would rather you didn’t know about”.

Kevin Farnsworth, a senior lecturer in social policy at the University of York, has produced a comprehensive audit of the British corporate welfare state. He has added up the subsidies and grants paid directly to businesses in the financial year 2011-12 which come to over £14bn – almost three times the £5bn paid out that year in income-based jobseeker’s allowance. Add to that the corporate tax benefits:

  • the value of the cheap credit made available to banks and other business,
  • the insurance schemes run by the government to protect exporters,
  • the marketing for British business laid on by Vince Cable’s ministry,
  • the public procurement from the private sector …

Farnsworth calculates that direct corporate welfare costs British taxpayers just short of £85bn – a conservative estimate.

fish organise

Will the little fish organise? Chakrabortty thinks that Farnsworth’s research should trigger a public debate about the size and uses of the corporate welfare state, adding, “Personally, I’ll believe we’re getting somewhere when Channel 4 puts on Corporate-Benefits Street – with White Dee replaced by Amazon founder and inveterate tax-dodger Jeff Bezos”.

Sources – read in full:

Posted on October 8, 2014, in Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Lobbying, Media, Planning, Secret State, Taxpayers' money and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. From Linda’s iPad:

    I am very worried by the Bill going through which gives corporations powers over ourselves not only in the UK but from other countries, in particular, America.

    The problem with renationalising industries is that our memories are only too clear about how inefficiently they were run. When will we get some state ownership with private involvement that works for the good of the country and the people? Never.

    When you blind people with fancy talk they just turn off. I see this as a councillor when I try to explain 106 agreements to residents that give developers extra help in getting their plans through by buying the council with cash for infrastructure projects like roads/schools in the area. Whether this money does what it says is debatable but residents do not understand if you use the jargon of the planners. I just tell them it is legalised bribery to get a planned development through the system quickly.

    The corporations and government (local as well as national) have too strong a hold on everything that I do not see a way out of it.

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