The wealth tax - Pay off the debt

What is it?

The Wealth Tax is a proposal to levy a one-off tax of 20% on the wealthiest 10% of the population in the UK. 


This would pay off the national debt and avoid the need for deep and harmful cuts in education, welfare and public services. It is a serious alternative to what is being proposed and carried out by the Coalition government.

Hmmm. That sounds good, but would it work?

Why not?

The total personal wealth in the UK is £9,000bn, a sum that dwarfs the national debt. It is mostly concentrated at the top, so the richest 10% own £4,000bn, with an average per household of £4m. The bottom half of our society own just 9%. The wealthiest hold the bulk of their money in property or pensions, and some in financial assets and objects such antiques and paintings.

A one-off tax of just 20% on the wealth of this group would pay the national debt and dramatically reduce the deficit, since interest payments on the debt are a large part of government spending. So that is what should be done. This tax of 20%, graduated so the very richest paid the most, would raise £800bn.

How can I find out more?

The proposal was originally outlined in an article by Greg Philo for The Guardian ('Deficit Crisis: Let's Really Be In It Together', 15.08.10). You can read the article and browse the comments 

A YouGov poll from June 2010 suggested that 74% of the population would favour a one-off tax on the wealthiest 6 million people in Britain. The full results of the poll, which is quoted in the article, are available here.The figures on wealth whch are also quoted in the artilce are from the Government website and can be viewed here.

In December 2010 The Guardian featured a subsequent article by Greg Philo which you can read here

Polly Toynbee endorsed the Wealth Tax in an October 2011 article for The Guardian which you can read here.


What can I do to get involved?

Download our free Media Kit via the main menu, use it to contact the press and help get the message of an alternative to the cuts into the mainstream media. We also want to let people know about the Wealth Tax on Facebook and Twitter. If you use these sites and can help push the idea that it's better to tax the richest 10% and boost the economy than to cut public services, then join us and link to our website. Tell your friends, your colleagues, contact your MP. We need to get this idea out there and show people there is an alternative.

Twitter Sample: There is an alternative to the cuts! Check out for more info. #wealthtax


Other articles about the Wealth Tax

'Do we need student loans for billionnaires?'  Sam Pizzigati, Institute for Policy Studies, October 2011
read it here

'A one-off Wealth Tax is astonishingly popular'  John Underwood, Labour Uncut, August 2010
read it here

Greg Philo's recent letter to the Guardian concerning the Wealth Tax can also be read here. The Wealth Tax is also mentioned in Martin Cloake's recent article for AOL which can be read here.

We have also compiled a list of links to articles, multimedia resources and reports on the economy from a range of sources which relate to issues around the Wealth Tax. Download it here.


Wealth Tax videos

Newsnight Scotland, BBC2, 18 October 2011. As protesters camp out in George Square, Greg Philo, Bill Jamieson of The Scotsman and Will Hutton, former editor of the Observer, discuss the financial situation and its social implications.

Discussion on Newsnight Scotland in the aftermath of the London riots (BBC2, 10.08.11)

Professor Philo discusses the Wealth Tax on BBC2's Daily Politics show, with Shadow Home Secretary  Yvette Cooper and Grant Shapps, Minister  for Housing and Local Government (BBC2, 15.09.10)

Greg Philo on the Jeremy Vine Show alongside former City broker Venetia Thompson (BBC Radio 2, 14.09.10)

Interview with George Galloway on Press TV.