Music icon and activist Billy Bragg has threatened not to pay his taxes in protest against the proposed £1.5 billion RBS bonuses soon to be distributed among bankers.
RBS, also known as the Royal Bank of Scotland, is now 84% owned by the taxpayer.
“At a time when the rest of us are being softened up for cuts in public services, I think the RBS investment bankers – who are after all are now the most highly paid public servants we have in this country – should be the first ones to take the cuts, rather than nurses, teachers, soldiers, and people like that,” Mr. Bragg told BBC News.
“I think we have to worry about the money pit that is RBS, which recorded the worst corporate losses of any British company in history just 12 months ago,” he added. “I think we should be asking ourselves how and why they are paying themselves such huge bonuses.”
The Treasury responded that no taxpayer money will be used to pay the bonuses. Taxpayer capital will remain intact; bonuses will be paid out of profits derived from RBS transactions after the Government invested the money.
This news did not reassure Mr. Bragg: “We have a short window of opportunity between now and 31 January [to stop the payment of bonuses], but the two main political parties don’t seem to be interested.”
As for refusing to pay his taxes, Mr. Bragg had this to say: “This is a frustration borne out of a sense of powerlessness in the face of the bonus culture. I don’t know what else to do.”
Banks of course assert that they have to pay out large bonuses to retain the best staff. Indeed, only last week, RBS chief executive Stephen Hester sought to justify the payment of bonuses and said he earned the “going rate” for his job.
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