London and the 0.01%

John Lanchester

It’s these two groups, non-doms and the internationally mobile, who mainly make up the London super-rich. They aren’t the 1%, or even the 0.1%, but the 0.01% – the few thousand richest people in the country. We go out of our way to entice them here: that’s what the non-dom rule is for. But there are almost no studies of their effect on the UK; of their impact on the debate about inequality and fairness; of their impact on the capital of having a group of people who simply don’t have to pay any attention to what things cost. One of the salient qualities of life in London, remarked on by long-term residents, by newcomers and by tourists, in short by everybody, is how expensive everything is. City pay is a big part of that, but the international super-rich contribute to it, too. The money they spend is obviously welcome, but it seems to me possible that it comes at too high a price to the rest of our polity. Inequality feeding down from the top of the income distribution is provably linked to a whole range of negative consequences for society, from higher rates of mental illness and incarceration and family breakdown to alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide. By choosing to have the tax system we have, we are choosing to make these problems worse; and we are concentrating the top of the inequality range in our capital city. The consequences of this need some real study. And yet it’s infinitely better to live in a country where people want to be, rather than a country that people want to flee – and these people’s presence here reflects that fact, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s