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Boris Johnson says super-wealthy should stop buying ‘schlosses in the home counties’

Boris Johnson with Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, at the launch of the Mayors Challenge in Europe at City Hall. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire Boris Johnson with Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, at the launch of the Mayors Challenge in Europe at City Hall. Picture: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
4:09 PM

London Mayor Boris Johnson has urged the super-wealthy in Britain to give more to philanthropic causes.

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Mr Johnson, who made the comment at the launch of a competition to inspire European cities to generate ideas to improve city life, encouraged US-style charitable giving by the wealthy.

He said attitudes were changing in London and he had seen some “amazing” acts of philanthropy across the city, but that too often those who amassed “colossal wealth” chose to buy a “grouse moor” or “schlosses in the home counties” rather than giving to good causes.

Mr Johnson said: “There is still something in Britain that regards giving on a huge scale as being somehow ostentatious. That is ridiculous, that is absolutely ridiculous.

“The sooner people get over their lust for buying great schlosses in the home counties or indeed a grouse moor and give to great causes in London, the better.”

Mr Johnson was speaking at the news conference for the launch of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, which was attended by Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York.

The competition will award five million euros (£4.2million) for the main prize-winner and one million for four additional cities that come up with the best ideas to improve city life.

Mr Johnson said he believed Britain faced “cultural” obstacles to increasing philanthropic giving by the wealthy.

“What they really want to do when they have amassed colossal wealth in Britain, what they like to do, is buy the biggest possible house they can, with the most colossal grouse moor they can find and then try in some desperate way to perpetuate it .. and pass it on to their children for some unknown reason,” he said.

“In America, they have a very different attitude, they believe that if you have made a lot of money you should do something for society.”

Mr Johnson described Mr Bloomberg as “one of the great philanthropists of our age”.

The two mayors were joined at the news conference at City Hall for the launch of the scheme by the Mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, and Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi.

The competition invites leaders of European cities with 100,000 residents or more to submit their city’s “boldest idea”. Around 600 cities around Europe are eligible to apply, according to the award organisers.

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