G7 leaders need to get serious about tackling rich-poor gap, says charity

It’s the theme of this year’s Biarritz summit, but Oxfam’s new report argues that the political heavyweights’ policies on tax, the climate and more are driving inequality not solving it

The G7 leaders have to rein in policies that are driving inequality and poverty at home and abroad, says Oxfam, if Johnson, Macron, Trump, Trudeau and co. can all get along in Biarritz.

Last year’s G7 summit was overshadowed by a row between US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the traditional joint-communique, a statement from all the leaders issued at the end of the event.

This year, host Emmanuel Macron has jettisoned the statement to avoid another falling out and he has declared this year’s theme something that we can all agree on: fighting inequality.

G7 governments have helped to create the inequality crisis, they now have the responsibility to be part of the solutions

That supposedly includes G7 debutant and new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said in June while on the campaign trail: “If we are to unite our country and unite our society, then we must fight now, for those who feel left behind.”

But international agency Oxfam has warned that policies in place in all of the countries – US, Japan, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Canada – is driving inequality both home and away.

Their ‘G7’s Deadly Sins’ report has accused leaders of failing to implement progressive tax systems, fuelling climate change and supporting a shareholder-first business model that drives down the wages and conditions of workers.

Johnson’s attitude to taxing the rich came under scrutiny during his road to Number 10 and Oxfam’s report suggests that wealth in the G7 is lightly taxed despite hosting the largest number of billionaires.

The UK is second only to the USA in wealth inequality out of the G7 countries with 60 per cent of wealth owned by the richest 10 per cent compared to America’s 76 per cent. As for the poorest 10 per cent, they own four per cent of wealth, ahead of only Germany’s three per cent and USA’s one per cent.

DID YOU KNOW…

Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.

The Oxfam report looks to increasing tax on the rich by 0.5 per cent extra to raise more than £200bn per year, which they claim will be enough to provide education to 262 million children out of school as well as providing healthcare to prevent the deaths of two million people.

Oxfam France’s executive director, Cécile Duflot, said: “G7 governments have helped to create the inequality crisis, they now have the responsibility to be part of the solutions – to make a choice between a brighter and more sustainable future for all of us or continued extreme wealth for a few.”

It was at another summit of leaders earlier this year, Davos in the Swiss mountains, where Dutch historian Rutger Bregman took a stand against tax avoidance and called for tax hikes for the super-rich as well as a universal basic income.

He was a cover star in The Big Issue back in April when he told us: “In the fifties and sixties, the golden age of capitalism, the UK and the US had the highest growth rates and highest innovation levels in modern times and also the highest top-rate taxes. People would laugh now at the idea of 90 per cent top rate marginal taxation.”