Readers' Letters: The idea wealthiest will help poorest is rich

The Office of National Statistics has released its update of the UK Average Salary 2019, showing that the average full-time salary is £36,611 and part-time salary, £12,495.

While the rich get richer, more people are depending upon food banks (Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)
While the rich get richer, more people are depending upon food banks (Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

A startling detail from the report revealed that approximately 344,000 highest earners who received more than £175,000 before tax accounted for 17 per cent of the UK’s pre-tax income, including capital gains, over that period but made just 6 per cent of all charitable donations.

So 94 per cent of charitable donations made by 83 per cent of the working population (33m) plus 12.5m pensioners means 45.5m people, typically earning, on average, £36,000. This average will include these 344,000 earning over £175,000, so the average is skewed too high.

It appears that the idea of wealth “trickling down” doesn’t work. A Low Tax economy was supposed to allow increased wealth for all, with the wealthy investing in local economies, thus allowing circulation and hence growth.

There is a yawning wealth gap and a yawning generosity gap. To quote the report: “The rich are getting richer but meaner.” But why? Could it be they just like hoarding it? Is this the same money created by quantatitive easing to prevent the banking and finance sector meltdown in 2008/09?

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Alistair Ballantyne, Birkhill, Angus

Shut Scotland

Leading Government health adviser Dr Jenny Harries has warned that our health services could be in “serious peril” given that the Omicron variant is “probably the biggest threat since the pandemic began”. Cases are doubling every two days and daily UK cases are at record levels.

Once again the UK is amongst the hardest hit but the Scottish Government has an opportunity to build on its risk communication strategy and act now to prevent a tsunami of cases leading to a January lockdown. Health advisers are already asking for further restrictions on numbers mixing, and the Government should further restrict indoor gatherings and implement temporary school closures. US research suggests the latter reduced the incidence of Covid by 60 per cent and a study from South Korea found that adolescents are the group most likely to spread the virus at home. Sustained closure is detrimental but closing temporarily, as advocated by the Educational Institute of Scotland, would help avoid the feared tsunami of cases.

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Cases in Edinburgh are currently surging much faster than those of most local authorities. This is not surprising given Omicron has already overtaken Delta as the most prevalent variant in London, whose airports send about 20 flights to Edinburgh each day. Edinburgh also sees a large influx of revellers from England and overseas at New Year. Research suggests that closing events and preventing numbers congregating is extremely effective. The Scottish Government should shut down New Year attractions and indoor events now to discourage travel.

The best strategy, therefore, is targeted restrictions to prevent the tsunami effect whereby hundreds of thousands of Scots are self isolating during January, crippling hospitality, public health and other sectors. The NHS can avoid “serious peril” and Scotland could fall into line with other countries living successfully with Covid, not just relying largely on vaccines.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Let doctors doctor

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It is manifestly obvious that we will not attain the target of everyone receiving a Covid booster jab by the end of this month. With the proportion of Covid sufferers requiring the most specialist care still above 90 per cent unvaccinated, we are increasingly dealing with those who are highly resistant to medical advice.

So why is the cancellation of GPs’ normal work prioritised – delaying the diagnosis and the treatment of other serious conditions – when the clear evidence from France is that requiring proof of vaccination to enter bars and other public places will persuade all but the most unregenerate to get jabs?

A new vaccination service staffed by easily trained laypeople working under the supervision of one clinician per clinic is needed. This would free GPs, hospital medics, pharmacists and nurses for other, more complicated, health issues and reduce the cost of what is likely to be an annual exercise.

(Dr) John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

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Naive thinking

It is 100 years ago this month that the Irish peace treaty, which involved senior politicians such as David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith was signed. I suspect that, like me, Kenny MacAskill would like to get into a time machine and be a fly on the wall as the negotiations concluded (Perspective, 16 December). He would have witnessed the signing of an agreement that was to help cause bitter acrimony among Irish people and many others for decades.

The parallel he seems to draw between that situation and the current constitutional impasse in Scotland is far-fetched for a number of reasons. The negotiations took place after a massive victory for Sinn Fein in the 1918 general election, certainly. But they took place after a gruelling guerrilla war. They seemed to end with a threat from Prime M inister Lloyd George that war would resume if the negotiators did not agree to the terms which set up not a republic, but Dominion status for an Irish Free state within the British Empire. This was to lead to divisions so severe that they led to a murderous conflict for a year in much of Ireland. But on top of that the country was to be associated for many years with autarky, harsh censorship, partition, appalling levels of rural and urban poverty, low growth and heavy levels of emigration.

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The convention that Kenny MacAskill calls for to determine Scotland's future does not bear comparison with the Irish situation. It is naive to think that the outcome of the convention (likely to be boycotted, in any case, by unionists) would be meekly accepted by a Westminster government. A more realistic way forward is twofold: to produce a modern programme for independence and then to campaign to get support for it up to at least 60 per cent of voters. That would help the move to autonomy without the violent overtones that have ruptured Irish history.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Let some air in

Every week, Dr Richard Dixon expresses his opinions in his Perspective column, evidently without real regard to his nation’s and fellow countrymen’s present safety and wellbeing. Does he care that decarbonisation by the UK will not defer or lessen the future climate changes he fears because our output of greenhouse gases is negligible at 0.00845 per cent of the total from planet earth?

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Moreover, the great bulk of the world's CO2 is emitted by nations fixedly non-compliant with edicts from the UN. They will never de-carbonise because they fear the damage they will impose on their industry and people.

Has he weighed up the immediate impacts of our governments' intended policies against the hypothetically adverse changes in world climate, many decades hence, that he and his organisation fear?

Would he and his fellow thinkers pledge personally to accept the inevitable, drastic sacrifices they call for? The loss of continuous electric power, severely damaging homes, hospitals, business and our defences against foreign aggression, which is the priority of all governments.

Charles Wardrop, Perth

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Taxing times

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying that “nothing is certain except death and taxes” and that would be true of Scotland, whoever was in charge. However, Mairianna Clyde (Letters, 16 December) seems to object to that, despite every country giving more tax to their Government than is returned to them. This is to cover the usual extras like repayment of interest on borrowing, defence, infrastructure expenses etc.

Of course, the deficit between the taxes raised and the expenditure in Scotland has been utterly horrendous of late, putting even our normal deficit in the shade. Luckily for us, however, the extra wealth generated by London and the south-east help the rest of the UK stay afloat. The SNP has sold out to the economically illiterate Greens who would close down Scotland’s industries as a whole: oil; gas, steel, manufacturing and even the sheep farms that supply our remaining wool industry and butchers with lamb. That is because the Greens know so little about anything, especially sheep-shearing, that they think that you have to kill a sheep to collect its wool. That is the level of knowledge of the party that the SNP relies upon to run Scotland.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

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Where’s cash?

As the SNP peddle more grievances about the funding that is available in the coming months despite a record high budget, has anyone gone back to look at where all the money has gone in the last two years?

There were numerous examples of Covid support funding earlier in the pandemic being held back by the Scottish Government. Has it all been used now for Covid-related support?

They should answer that before seeking even more money on top of the huge sums of taxpayer money already at their disposal.

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J Lewis, Edinburgh

Sleigh ‘em

Brian Bannatyne-Scott states “the existence of a sleigh in Scotland must be extremely unlikely” (Letters, 15 December).

My grandmother was seven and half months pregnant when she gave birth to my father on 14 January 1917. The snow was so deep that no wheeled vehicle could reach our house, near Penicuik, but the doctor managed to make it – in a horse-drawn sleigh.

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Humphrey Errington, Carnwath, Lanark

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