It’s socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us in Britain _ Books _ The Guardian housing benefit single person

Privatisation of rail was a form of socialism for the rich that became particularly notorious. According to a report by the centre for research on socio-cultural change, state spending on the privatised railways was six times higher than it was in the dying days of british rail. And yet under the privatised system, rolling stock was replaced less frequently, there was not enough carriage space to accommodate rising numbers of rail passengers, and ticket prices were the highest in europe. As the report put it, technological innovation and improvement were powered or underwritten by the state. The taxpayer shouldered the risk, while profit was privatised: or heads they win and tails we lose.

Big business is dependent on the state in a multitude of other ways.

An expensive law-and-order system defends its property.Housing benefit single person the privatisation of royal mail ensured that the state kept the pension liabilities – nationalising the debt, privatising the profit. The business elite benefits from around £10bn spent on research and development by the british state each year: and innovations from the internet to the technology behind the iphone originate from public sector research, as mariana mazzucato uncovered in the entrepreneurial state. Big business relies on extensive spending on infrastructure: in 2012, the confederation of british industry suggested savings from cuts to benefits – raids on the pockets of the working and non-working poor – could be used to invest in the road network. And the state educates the workforce of big business at vast expense.

With big business benefiting from so much state largesse, you might expect gratitude in the form of the glad payment of taxes.Housing benefit single person after all, this socialism for the rich is not cheap. A common figure bandied around by defenders of britain’s wealthy elite is that the top 1% of earners pay a third of all income tax, conveniently ignoring the fact that only a quarter of government revenue comes from income tax, with much of the rest coming from national insurance and indirect taxes paid by the population as a whole. But tax avoidance is rampant among much of the corporate and wealthy elite that benefits so much from state handouts. While the law cracks down on the misdemeanours of the poor, it allows, even facilitates, the far more destructive behaviour of the rich. Compare the billions lost through tax avoidance to the £1.2bn lost through benefit fraud, an issue that remains the news fodder of choice for the rightwing press.

The manner in which this happens shows who the state exists to serve.Housing benefit single person the big four accountancy firms – EY, deloitte, KPMG and pricewaterhousecoopers (pwc) – have been slammed for their role in tax avoidance. But their response is instructive. We don’t ever condone tax avoidance or support tax avoidance, pledges EY’s steve varley. Fundamentally, parliament has to legislate what parliament wants to happen … and people like us can follow the legislation and provide advice to our clients.

But what varley conveniently fails to mention is that firms such as EY help design the law in the first place, and then go off and help advise their clients on how to get around it. We have seen what look like cases of poacher, turned gamekeeper, turned poacher again, declared the public accounts committee in april 2013, whereby individuals who advise government go back to their firms and advise their clients on how they can use those laws to reduce the amount of tax they pay.Housing benefit single person this is an astonishing finding. Senior mps have concluded that accountants were not simply offering governments their expertise: they were advising governments on tax law, and then telling their clients how to get around the laws they had themselves helped to draw up.

When it comes to rhetoric, the modern establishment passionately rejects statism. The advocates of state interventionism are dismissed as dinosaurs who should hop in a time machine and return to the discredited 1970s. And yet state interventionism is rampant in modern britain: but it exists to benefit the rich. No other phenomenon sums up more starkly how unjust modern britain is. Social security for the poor is shredded, stripped away, made ever more conditional. But welfare for large corporations and wealthy individuals is doled out like never before.Housing benefit single person the question is not just whether such an establishment is unjust: the question is whether it is sustainable.