The Guardian, Comment is Free: Andy Burnham is giving part of his salary away. Should we all follow suit?

The Manchester mayor is donating 15% of his salary to tackling homelessness in the city. But can alms-giving ever be a viable alternative to state safety nets?

Andy Burnham has begun his tenure as mayor of Greater Manchester by showing he’s a man of his word. One of only 69 MPs who pledged to give away their 2015 pay rise, Burnham announced early in his candidacy that if elected he would donate 15% of his £110,000 salary to kickstart a Mayor’s Homelessness Fund. He duly spent his first morning on the job out with an outreach team and restated his intention, saying “Rough sleeping and homelessness are not inevitable consequences of a 21st century economy,” indicating that the fourfold increase in people living on the city’s streets since 2010 is the result of government failure.

It’s easy to dismiss this as a savvy bit of image-polishing – inaugurating a special mayoral fund has the whiff of a personality cult about it – but Burnham’s pledge raises key questions about taxation, charity and how we fund vital services…

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