George Osborne has appointed a former Tory MP, Angela Knight, as his tax adviser, despite the fact she isn’t qualified for the job, adding to the long list of Osborne’s failures.
Osborne has presided over an ever increasing national debt since he came to office, and has consistently failed to meet targets. One of the reasons the UK has such a large debt, is the faith consecutive governments have placed in neoliberalism – with things like Private Finance Initiatives costing hundreds of billions to the UK tax payer. In the meantime, Osborne has cut corporation tax and slashed tax for the richest.
While Osborne’s protected the richest, he couldn’t care less about the poorest. Under the Conservative party’s austerity measures, children are going hungry and freezing at school, as their parents can’t afford food or clothes for them.
Also, austerity has led to the work capability assessment (WCA) which decides whether a disabled person (or someone who has a long-term illness) who is a recipient of benefits, should remain on welfare or have their support cut and be forced into work. A report has shown that the WCA was the likely cause of 590 suicides and 279,000 cases of mental illness.
The huge impacts of austerity have been felt in mental health services, with some having to wait three days for a hospital bed due to the lack of funds.
Conflict of interests
But this hasn’t stopped Osborne bowing down to big businesses like Google, allowing them to pay a meagre amount of the tax that they owe. And now, Osborne has done another friend a favour, by appointing a former Tory MP and bankers’ lobbyist as his tax adviser. Knight has been appointed chair of the Office of Tax Simplification, whose overarching aim is to make the tax system more simplistic.
Knight is a director for a number of firms, including the financial management firm Brewin Dolphin. Many MPs are rightly concerned that she isn’t independent from Osborne, and has a conflict of interest. There are also concerns that she doesn’t have much knowledge on tax issues. Labour MP, Wes Streeting, argued:
The qualified endorsement of her appointment does raise questions about the judgment of the chancellor and the seriousness with which he views his responsibilities to make appropriate appointments to important roles.
Knight resigned from the British Bankers’ Association in 2012. She started working there in 2007 and immediately had to defend the banking industry in the midst of the financial crisis. She appeared to regret taking the appointment in a difficult period of time saying:
I am so sorry I ended up at the BBA during the banking crisis. I’m so sorry it chose me to be its target. I’m so sorry it took a trade association into a different era. I’m so sorry I never persuaded the authorities to take over [setting] Libor [rates] earlier and I’m so sorry the banks brought about [the] financial disaster they did.
But despite feeling sorry for herself, she did say she had “one more job in me” and it appears Osborne is willing to take the chance on her. It is actions like these which remind us why Osborne was the first to receive boos at the London Paralympic games, and was booed at the Star Wars premiere in London. It appears to be the case that Osborne is happy to see millions across the country suffer under austerity while he and his (unqualified) mates run amok at the expense of taxpayers.
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