Recession: 'We're all in this together' Oh yeah? - Business Analysis & Features - Business - The Independent

Recession: 'We're all in this together' Oh yeah?

So, would-be Chancellor George Osborne says we must all share the pain. Unemployment is at a 17-year high of 2.47 million and 65,000 face repossession, while Goldman Sachs bankers in the UK are in line for an average £440,000 bonus, and top City lawyers are struggling on £380,000. Fair?


THE MP

Tony Baldry, 58

The Conservative MP for Banbury has 10 other paid roles outside of Parliament. He has two homes in north Oxfordshire and London and, despite his income from other work, claimed the maximum second home allowance of £23,083 in 2007/8. Baldry's expenses are still being examined and he was unavailable for comment yesterday, but has said: "I genuinely believe my professional and outside interests enable me to be a better MP, more broadly based in my views with a greater range of competencies."

In one year his claims included £1,265 for a coffee machine. In September, Baldry was paid more than £22,000 for 16 hours' work for a solicitor's clients. Told to stop claiming for his second home in London because the property was in his wife's name, he later transferred the title and mortgage to his own name and tried to claim again, but was rejected.

THE NIGHTCLUB OWNER

Guy Pelly, 27

He co-owns London nightclubs Mahiki and Whisky Mist, the bar Tini and Mayfair pub The Punchbowl, which is also owned by Guy Ritchie. The son of a Kent landowner, he is "best friends" with Princes William and Harry, owns a house in Chelsea and is thought to be worth more than £40m. Pelly wasn't able to talk to us, because he and business partners Piers Adam and Nick House were "about to jet out on Piers's jet to LA to talk about opening a beach-style Mahiki over there", but did admit that business has been "amazing – despite the recession".

THE ENTREPRENEUR

Keith Britten, 42

Made redundant from his £43,000 job at media company William Reed in December after eight years. He is now launching his own hospitality news and database business, Britten's Info, after failing to find another job. He lives in Oxted, Surrey.

"I was officially unemployed from January. I could sign on, getting about £63 a week, and started looking around but there really wasn't anything in the first four months of the year, so I started investigating setting up on my own. When you have been somewhere a long time it's a bit of a shock.

Financially, I had to pull in spending. I got a £7,000 loan a couple of months ago from Lloyds TSB. I went to various other banks and they were, 'Oh, we don't have money'. I'm about to sign off. It feels very good. If I hadn't gone out on my own I would have had to change career."

THE SACKED PROTESTER

Mark Smith, 44

He lost out on £10,000 redundancy money when he was sacked after protesting at the closure of the Vestas wind turbine factory where he had worked. "The lowest point was actually being told that you were losing your job after being told you were going to keep your job. I blame the Government for not helping us out when they bailed out the banks. I get about £100 a week in benefits. It does make you feel sick when there's so many people in trouble and then you see bankers getting bonuses again."

THE BANKER

Mike Sherwood, 44

"Woodie" Sherwood is truly Goldman Sachs's golden boy. The former bond trader was made a partner in "Golden Sacks" aged only 29.

The only Briton to hold the executive reins at the US bank lives in a mansion overlooking Regent's Park. He is looking forward to a multimillion-pound windfall come Christmas, after the bank described by Rolling Stone magazine as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money" managed to claw back up the greasy pole of capitalism. Woodie, who had to manage on his £600,000-a-year base salary in 2008, will be handsomely rewarded for his 24 years at the bank when it divvies up its likely £14bn-plus pay-and bonus-pool. A Goldman spokesman said: "We pay people for performance."

THE BANK CLERK

Tim Keirman, 24

The former NatWest bank clerk from Cambridge was sacked in February for helping recession-hit customers to reclaim bank charges.

"I was fired from my £14,351-a-year job as an adviser at Cambridge NatWest. I'd been on internet forums helping people in the recession made redundant get money back that the bank charged them. Then suddenly it was me who was out of a job. For months I was out of work. I was even turned down from roles at McDonald's and Asda. I finally got work as a cleaner and now do two cleaning jobs at £6.77 and £6.86 an hour. Now I've got debts to pay off. We're not out of this recession yet."

THE FUND MANAGER

Nichola Pease, 48

The fund manager is not known as one half of the City's "Posh and Becks" for nothing. As deputy chairman of JO Hambro Capital Management, she knows a thing or two about money. She should: her forebears helped to found Barclays. Not to mention the estimated £204m fortune that she shares with her husband, the hedge fund supremo Crispin Odey. After slim pickings last year, when her salary plunged to half a million pounds, a rejuvenated FTSE should help to bulk out this year's pay packet. Last week, she infuriated many by telling MPs that sexism in the City was dead and buried. And that mothers should return to work after taking three months off.

THE PENSIONER

Dennis Varney, 58

Married and living in Basildon, Essex, he retired three years ago, but his pension has almost halved in value. "I'm going to lose 41 per cent of the value of my pension. I did have a pension of two-thirds of my final salary because of 38 years of service with Ford and then Visteon. Now my pension is worth a lot less. I paid enough in to get £2,190 month, but will now get £1,231 a month. It is devastating because when you retire you make certain plans for yourself and your family. It seems a bit obscene that bankers can still do certain things and then the rest of us have to suffer for it. I'm quite angry. You work for your family and now we're going to have to make drastic changes. It is more than likely I will have to go back to work because my income is now less."

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