January 2, 2012

Britain’s Cameron Promises to ‘Tackle’ Level of Finance Pay

Critical of ‘excess’ rewards unrelated to risk or effort

In his New Year speech, British Prime Minister David Cameron sought to offer encouragement to those having a difficult time getting by, and warned those who apparently were getting by too well in the financial industry that he would “tackle excess in the City.”

Pointing out that the world would be watching as Britain celebrated the queen's diamond jubilee and hosted the Olympics, Cameron sounded poised to make some very public changes.

Even though Britain has thus far escaped the worst of the spreading euro zone crisis, danger lurks and the country has not been untouched; he acknowledged that jobs are few and inflation is taking its toll. In a nod to such obstacles to security, Cameron said, “I get [it]” that jobs are scarce for young people, that it is getting more difficult for ordinary citizens to pay bills, and that public services and infrastructure in the country are in need of improvement.

Such problems would be tackled in 2012, he promised, despite difficulties. Bringing down the country's debt would offer better protection from the euro zone crisis, while “transforming” the country's infrastructure, “working to cure” societal problems with welfare reform and “sort[ing] out” public services would improve the lot of the “British people [who] have got what it takes.”

Declaring that “the government has got the ideas and policies we need,” Cameron said he would be “bold about working to cure the problems of our society.” One of the problems on his list is the rate of executive pay in the financial industry. He said, “While a few at the top get rewards that seem to have nothing to do with the risks they take or the effort they put in, many others are stuck on benefits, without hope or responsibility.” He said the government would “tackle excess in the City just as we're reforming welfare to make work pay and support families.”

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