Thursday 13 October 2011

Unequal Britain

A few days ago I read that a Lord Hunt of Wirral is the "front runner" to become Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission. I am sure he is eminently qualified for the post, which doesn't seem to me to require any particular expertise (it can't be al that difficult to decide whether something is genuinely in the public interest, or just of prurient interest to the public and therefore likely to sell more newspapers) but am appalled that if he gets the job he will be paid £170 000 a year for a three-day week.

Lord Hunt of Wirral is 69 years old so presumably already receives his Old Age Pension of £102.15 a week (£160.65 if he has a partner), assuming he has a full record of stamps. He will receive his £200 winter fuel allowance and free bus pass whether he has paid his stamps or not. In addition he is a former Tory MP so will have a generous pension for that. He is also a former Minister and may even get more pension for that - I don't know. In addition, Lord Hunt of Wirral is a member of the House of Lords, so can claim £86.50 for every day he attends (I believe he doesn't have to do anything - just sign the book) plus an overnight allowance of £174 as he lives outside London, which, being "of Wirral" he presumably does.

So what on earth does he need an extra £170 000 a year for, over £1 000 for each day's "work" even if he does three days for every week in the year? Even more intriguing, since all his needs are already more than comfortably supplied, what on earth is he going to do with it, other than shore up further advantage and privilege for his children and their children if any.

Perhaps I'm being unfair and he'll give it to Oxfam, but it seems to me a nonsense for the public purse to lavish further wealth on the already well-heeled whilst expecting job seekers to fire off application after application for non-existent jobs and remain keen, enthusiastic and dedicated while they survive on £67.50 a week.

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