The Fortune Forum will be meeting on tuesday night at the Dorchester hotel to discuss innovative ways to relieve global poverty. In attendance will be 100 billionaires, captains of industry, celebrities and philanthropists, gathered to hear Ted Turner speak and Joss Stone sing.
The Fortune Forum, according to their website, “is dedicated to assist and showcase some of the finest humanitarian organisations alongside a number of exemplary grassroots initiatives in the world today. Thoughtful dignitaries, music legends and donors; philanthopists, private individuals and entrepreneurs converge to perpetuate life-changing and durable results.”
The forum is, basically, a club to encourage very rich people to give a little more away. Disgracefully, the mega-rich give away considerably less of their incomes than the poor. The richest 20% of us in the UK give an average of 0.8% of our incomes away, the bottom 20% gives away 3%.
While that might sound laudable, the Forum has hatched an interesting plan to encourage the rich to give more – through tax breaks. Under their proposed scheme, 50% of every donation would be deducted from the donor’s tax bill. The government would then pay that 50% from its aid budget. In theory, this would mean £5 billion extra donations for the poor. In reality, it would suck up the whole of the UK’s aid budget – it would still end up going to the poor, but it would do so through the donations of the rich instead of the Department for International Development. Aid would be privatised, our taxpayer’s contribution to the UK’s aid rolled up into billionaire playboys’ pet projects.
The forum insists their idea is an ‘incentive’ to encourage the rich to give more. I say it’s a complete injustice, and the average billionaire could give away 100 times what they do already and still be stupendously wealthy. Why should the tight-fisted rich be given sweeteners to part with their wealth, when the poor have proved to be more generous than they are with no help at all?
Unfortunately the forum’s scheme has the backing of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon. They have also met with the treasury. This week’s dinner will raise the profile of their idea even more. But no matter who supports it, and no matter how much the poor are mentioned, or even how much money is released through it, the Fortune Forum speaks louder about greed than it does charity.