As the economy flat lines, Public Sector pensions are set to be trashed and students this week face the prospect of paying £27,000 before they even start to think about studying for a degree, it was today announced that HRH Charles, Prince of Wales received an increase of 17.9% in taxpayer funding meaning that his income from Joe Public went up £298,000 to £1.962 million.
Ah yes, I hear you say, doesn’t he have a staff to pay and buildings to maintain, plus all that travelling about doing good?
On the pay issue even Boris Johnson has backed UNISON’s demand that royal workers be paid a “Living Wage” of £7.85 rather than the current practice of paying many staff the minimum wage of £6.15 an hour. The royal household has a disgraceful record on pay and on the day when William Wales and Kate Middleton received a £20 million pound wedding at our expense, the household made it’s staff take the day as paid (or unpaid in the case of agency staff) leave as they did not recognise it as a statutory holiday!
As for the upkeep of his estates, as an individual, The Prince of Wales has an institutional estate – the Duchy of Cornwall – of 141,000 acres; this includes freehold on much of Kensington area of London worth an estimated £500 million. Not one penny of tax is paid on these assets.
And whilst on the subject of Royal finance, The Crown Estate owns nearly 400,000 acres, and is worth over £5 billion, with profits in the region of £180 million per annum.
This body owns land ‘in the right of the crown’ and pays a fraction its profits into the coffers of the exchequer, which in return repays a large chunk of the income to the Monarchy for its annual expenses, that is the Civil List.
So the public have a right to be outraged by today’s news. How dare the Government say that, “We are all in this together”, when such facts are put into the public domain whilst Public Sector workers are fighting a desperate rearguard action to defend their pension entitlements.
As an NUT member and school rep I was balloted twice during my career over strike action, and both times I voted no, as I felt that the public at large would not understand our actions, and we would lose valuable parental support.
As a principal, Unions are there to prevent strikes through the power of collective bargaining and I felt that this approach should drive the process forward.
Not this time. This time the Government are not willing to listen, refuse all offers of meaningful negotiation, and are actively encouraging the use of blackmail (think of your career) and strike breaking, by encouraging parents to look after students whose teachers are on strike. Funnily enough all that CRB stuff that you have to go through, even to be a Governor with no direct unsupervised contact with the children, doesn’t seem to apply in this scenario.
Then to add insult to injury it has today emerged that the Government are resigned to the fact that the vast majority, if not all Universities are going to triple tuition fees to the maximum £9,000 a year despite Minister’s assurances last autumn that only a very few elite institutions would be allowed to go down the maximum charge route.
And for the icing on the cake we have the news that the economy has completely stalled since Labour left office. Economic growth was fragile but promising at 1.5% in May 2010. Since then we have experienced negative growth followed by a lethargic rise of 0.5% as the VAT hike has destroyed consumer spending, and the reality of a pay freeze, trashed pensions, and the prospect of the dole queue has zeroed consumer confidence that we will ever get out of this mess created by the rich, but which Mr and Mrs Average are expected to pay for.
So well done to the Tories and the Royal Family who prove what we already know; they have real and genuine contempt for the rest of us.