Archbishop Of York Dr John Sentamu Blames Top Executive Salaries For Rich Poor Divide

The Archbishop of York has attacked the salaries of top executives saying huge differences between the rich and poor "weaken community life and make societies less cohesive".

Dr John Sentamu, the second most important figure in the Church of England, said excesses in the financial sector have helped to create huge inequalities in wealth, "demonstrating how scandalously unfair our society is".

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Dr Sentamu called for a change in public attitudes towards excessive personal wealth as profound and rapid as moves against racism, homophobia and sex discrimination in recent decades.

He said: "If they (FTSE 100 chief executives) have a responsibility to their staff, it is hard to imagine a more powerful way of telling someone that they are of little value than to pay them one-third of 1% of your salary.

"Top pay has been found to bear little or no relation to company performance, but even if it did, isn't the performance of a company dependent on the work and well-being of all its staff?

"Among the ill effects of very large income differences between rich and poor are that they weaken community life and make societies less cohesive."

The archbishop said: "But over last few decades the gains from economic growth have gone disproportionately to those who already have the most."

Dr Sentamu called for a change of ethics regarding excessively high incomes and the accumulation of private wealth. He said he had two suggestions.

The first was that "Queen's honours" should not be given "to those who have already rewarded themselves handsomely". He said: "To have to choose between two coveted sources of honour and prestige would be salutary."

The archbishop's second suggestion was to crack down on tax avoidance, including a proposal to put a tick-box on tax forms to allow contributions to be made public.