Letters: Inequality and greed in the City

These letters are published in the print edition of The Independent, May 8th, 2013

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Margareta Pagano (7 May) says the elephant in the room when discussing the lack of women in the boardroom is the cost of childcare. She is wrong. The elephant in the room is the idea that caring for children is a responsibility shared only between mothers and women who are childcarers.

Boardrooms won’t change until the ownership of the responsibility of caring for children is shared with men. The countries were it is easiest to be a mother are the countries where the responsibility with men is shared the most, and they are the best places to be a father too.

Duncan Fisher

Crickhowell, Powys


Am I the only person who feels queasy about supporting Samantha Mangwana’s demand for government action to tackle the gender pay gap within the City (letter, 7 May)?

As someone who earns a fraction of what City workers (male or female) can expect to earn I very much oppose gender inequality in all walks of life. But when it comes to the cesspit of greed that is the City I find it difficult to support a cause that will perpetuate the cycle of social inequality we currently find ourselves in.

It is the equivalent of promoting war to secure the jobs of workers at a missile factory. 

Cían Carlin

London N4


I wholeheartedly agree with Samantha Mangwana that the appalling gender pay gap in the City should be brought to a swift end. It is disgraceful that men working in the City should be paid a six, or even seven, figure sum more than the women.

Wider disclosure of pay levels is vital, since if the rest of society were made fully aware of the outrageous pay levels in the City, the massive bonuses paid to the men would soon end. Not only would the gender pay gap become history, but the rest of us would be spared the burden of subsidising the bloated financial services sector.

Nigel Wilkins

London SW7

Samantha Mangwana’s letter on pay for women in the City is yet further evidence that men are overpaid in the financial services sector. If women are willing to work for less, then what is the justification for paying men more? 

Are male dominated boards abusing shareholders by over-paying their male employees (and themselves)? Would more women on the boards stop that abuse or increase it by leading to women being overpaid as well?

Jon Hawksley

London EC1


Care homes starved  of money

It is good that shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has given high profile to the plight of care homes (“Care homes on the brink as bailiffs move in”, 29 April). But, sadly, this comes as no surprise to those of us representing the beleaguered care profession.

We have been warning for some time that social care is underfunded and that money paid to providers by commissioners such as local authorities is inadequate to offer the care that is needed. The economic downturn and its big impact on money available to local authorities has worsened this still further, with those councils paying less and less and expecting the same or improved care.

Care providers, by going out of business or suffering hardship, are paying the price.

We have warned about this worsening situation for some time and have suggestions to help, but we have been unable to get successive governments to act. Can Mr Burnham make the Government listen?

Mike Padgham

Chair, Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire),  Scarborough

For the past two decades it has been government policy for councils to keep older people out of residential care and to find better ways of supporting people in their own homes. Governments always say that this is what older people want.

As a result of this there has been a steady decline year on year in the numbers of people funded by councils in residential care, despite the increases of people with care needs in the population. It should not be of any surprise to either Norman Lamb nor Andy Burnham that care home providers are now  facing financial challenges.

One might argue this is an outdated way of providing care. New approaches such as extra-care housing may eventually replace residential care. This is already happening in Coventry, where I live.

Professor John Bolton

Institute of Public Care,

Oxford Brookes University


Best deal for Kodak pensions

John Ralfe’s ill-advised attack on the integrity of the Pensions Regulator and the recent settlement negotiated between the Kodak Pension Plan (KPP) and Eastman Kodak (report 6 May) really does demonstrate the point that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. As far as I am aware, Mr Ralfe made no attempt to check his facts with the KPP. If he had checked with us, he should have managed to get closer to the truth.

Throughout the negotiations the trustees followed rigorous advice from world-class legal, financial, actuarial and investment teams. The advice received was the subject of enormous scrutiny and probing by both the trustees and the UK regulatory agencies.

All parties agreed that within the legal framework that oversees and protects UK pension schemes, the most sensible way forward in the circumstances was the settlement we have achieved. It is the best available option for our members and provides value to all stakeholders. I deeply appreciate the robust questioning by the Pensions Regulator and the Pension Protection Fund of the advice the trustees received; it helped to give us confidence about the decisions that we needed to make.

As trustees, our main responsibility is to our members, many of whom are already pensioners or are close to retirement. It is important that they receive clear messages that enable them to understand the choice they will have to make over the next few months. Otherwise they stand to lose substantial benefits. 

Steven Ross

Chairman,the Kodak Pension Plan, Reading


Israeli raids show up Arab divisions

Israel’s air raids on Syrian forces illustrate the underlying tragedy of the Arab World’s divisions and tribal loyalties. Israel’s behaviour in Syria is a repeat of what it did in Lebanon in the late Seventies, culminating in the invasion of June 1982.

We Arabs have consistently supplied Israel with its opportunities to expand its territories. It still does not have clear borders as other countries do, because it has not quite completed its expansion plans. Israel will invade Syria pretending that it is policing a murderous civil war, get rid of Assad and his evil regime, move on to Lebanon to neutralise Hizbollah and then be “obliged” to launch a strike against Iran.

Syrian lands occupied by Israel will join the Syrian Golan Heights to house Jewish settlements and US Jews will emigrate in droves to fulfil US envoy Jeane Kirkpatrick’s comment about Israelis being pioneers like the American Founding Fathers.

And the main Arab states will rub their hands in glee as Israel smashes Shi’ites, thus maintaining Arab Sunni hegemony. Until, that is, Israel’s powerful hegemony prevails as it ultimately will do.

What a catastrophic and sad state of affairs.

Dr Faysal Mikdadi



Now Ukip has  to deliver

Professor David Head makes an interesting point (letter, 6 May) about Ukip’s success in Lincolnshire. An initial glance at the new electoral map here in Kent also shows the Ukip support to be concentrated in peripheral regeneration areas, the bizarre exception being Tunbridge Wells East. However, although Folkestone embraced Ukip, interestingly Dover returned to Labour. 

It will be interesting to see how this new group performs on the County Council, the main functions of which are social care and education: Ukip does not appear to have strong or indeed any policies on either of these. Will they make it up on the hoof, or simply create more opportunities to spread their anti-EU, anti-immigration messages? 

Mike Thompson

Maidstone, Kent


Keynes did care for the future

Niall Ferguson shares with historians like Richard Overy and Paul Johnson the rare ability to combine intensive research and an agreeable style with original interpretation, and it is not stupid to suppose that people with grandchildren have relatively more interest in the future than others (“Ferguson has history of homophobic abuse of Keynes”, 6 May).

But for Keynes it was not only his economics, which went much further than immediate “reflationary” response to depression, that demonstrated long-term social concern, but also his opinions (right or wrong) on demographic and eugenic planning.    


Sheringham, Norfolk


Much as I admire Peter Tatchell’s intelligence, his quoted statement that Ferguson’s remarks “are what we might expect from a pub bigot, not from a Harvard professor” was in effect very prejudiced. Why shouldn’t a Harvard professor be a pub bigot?

Martin Sandaver

Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire


Mirren’s call  for silence

Dame Helen Mirren stopped the drums outside the Gielgud Theatre. If only she would perform at Shakespeare’s Globe and silence the helicopters.

Peter Forster

London N4


After her recent “performance”, will Helen Mirren next play the Duke of Edinburgh?

Philip Goldenberg

Woking, Surrey


Abortion pill

Semantics is confusing us over the issue of the “morning-after” pill (“Christian-run NHS surgery criticised for refusing to prescribe morning-after pill”, 6 May). When a medical doctor does not want to prescribe such a pill the reason is because it is not a late contraceptive, but an early abortion pill.

Dr J Matthews

Wareham, Dorset



So Nigel Lawson wants us to leave the EU does he? Is this the same Nigel Lawson whose 1988 budget caused a housing boom and stoked inflation, provoking a substantial rise in interest rates, a recession and the scourge of negative equity, and who now spends his time speaking against the science of climate change?

Ian Richards