A union leader has called for greater equality in society, saying the "soar-away super-rich" are becoming cut off from the rest.
Brendan Barber predicted "resentment" in the public sector
Low pay for public sector workers could also cause "simmering resentment", TUC general secretary Brendan Barber warned in his New Year message.
He urged more help for workers "at the bottom", faster progress on ending child poverty and fairer workplaces.
Mr Barber said tax loopholes should be closed so the rich pay a "fair share".
He said the "super-rich" took advantage of tax loopholes, and their lives were "cut off from the rest of us".
"This is not just bad for social cohesion, but distorts the economy.
"If the super-rich and big companies are not paying their fair share it means that the rest of us - including small and medium sized businesses are paying too much, that public services are not getting the growth they need and that we do not have the resources to end child poverty," he added.
"No-one particularly enjoys paying tax but it is the price tag for a civilised society, and it's about time that we had a proper debate about whether those who can afford it are paying their fair share."
He also criticised government plans to limit public sector pay rises to 2% per year over the next three years.
"It does not just threaten the recruitment, retention and morale of public servants but will damage an industrial relations system that has minimised conflict in the public sector."
In a gloomy outlook of the labour market for next year, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said 2008 "would be the worst year for jobs this decade and easily the worst since the Labour Government came to power in 1997".
Report author, chief CIPD economist John Philpott, said reduced hiring in the private sector and job reductions in the public sector were predicted to cause "a net rise in total UK employment of 75, 000 (0.25%) in the year to December 2008, only a third of the rise recorded in both 2006 and 2007".