Nick Shaxson ■ Direct corporate welfare costs UK taxpayers £85bn a year


Kevin Farnsworth

We recently remarked on the good work done by Good Jobs First in highlighting state-level corporate welfare in the United States. Greg Leroy of Good Jobs First also points is towards the work by the Pew Charitable Trusts to bring more transparency to federal-level subsidies and spending. Now, from The Guardian:

Kevin Farnsworth, a senior lecturer in social policy at the University of York, has spent the best part of a decade studying corporate welfare – delving through Whitehall spreadsheets and others, and poring over Companies House filings. He’s just produced what is, as far as I know, the first ever comprehensive audit of the British corporate welfare state.”

Farnsworth finds that the subsidies and grants paid directly to UK businesses in the financial year 2011-add up to to over £14bn – that is, almost three times the £5bn paid out that year in income-based jobseeker’s allowance.

“Add to that the corporate tax benefits, the value of the cheap credit made available to banks and other business, the insurance schemes run by the government to protect exporters, the marketing for British business laid on by Vince Cable’s ministry, the public procurement from the private sector … Farnsworth calculates that direct corporate welfare costs British taxpayers just shy of £85bn a year. This, he admits, is a conservative estimate.”

This is work that could usefully be done for other countries in the world.

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