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The latest scandal to hit HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, again throws a spotlight on the enormous failings of the finance sector. It is also a source of embarrassment for governments present and past – but also for the Church of England.
Hundreds of millionaire bankers will enjoy an extra £54,000 on average each year from 6 April 2013, thanks to a cut in the top UK tax rate (assuming they pay taxes here and opposition calculations are correct). A massive state bailout previously saved many banks, after their sector triggered an economic crisis in which numerous taxpayers suffered. By coincidence, Mick Philpott – whose crimes are being exploited by the Chancellor and Prime Minister to undermine the principle of social security – also apparently received £54,000 a year from public funds.
It has long been apparent that demeaning and demonising benefit recipients to provide a rationale for deep welfare cuts is part of the government's strategy. Given the distribution curve of human behaviours, it is inevitable that some who receive benefits will be feckless, lazy and scrounging, just as these defects will also be found in the more prosperous strata of society. Now, Lord Freud – the Welfare Reform Minister – has found a new slur to cast on poor people.