HMRC tax assurance commissioner Edward Troup should consider his future after claiming that his failure to collect £34 billion in unpaid taxes – and that’s a conservative figure! – is no worse than in other countries.
Doesn’t he know he lives in the United Kingdom? We used to set the standard to which other countries aspired, but not any more. You know why? Because the top jobs started going to people like Edward Troup!
The British and Northern Irish public expect better of their public officials. If Troup can’t deliver, he should make way for somebody who can.
The amount of tax going uncollected in the Britain is no worse than in other countries around the world, a senior official at the tax authority has said.
Edward Troup, HMRC’s tax assurance commissioner, told the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee that the £34 billion tax gap was broadly similar to that in other countries
The figure, which includes tax avoided and evaded, as well as unintentional errors made by the tax authority and taxpayers, represents 6.4 per cent of all tax collected.
Slippery as an eel, the submarine Chancellor has surfaced from whatever hiding-place he has been using for the last week or so, insisted that the pursuit of people who evaded tax on advice from the HSBC Bank is nothing to do with him, and re-submerged before anybody could point out that this isn’t entirely true.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne doesn’t have a hand in individual prosecutions – but he does set the conditions under which such investigations are undertaken.
Alex Little is therefore correct in pointing out that Osborne is notably not saying that HMRC will have all the resources it needs to carry out a full and exhaustive investigation into the HSBC scandal, and that he needs to appoint financial regulators who actually want to stamp out abuses, rather than those who live in sublime ignorance (such as the gentleman mentioned in Mr Little’s article).
None of the government’s actions have satisfied Labour. Chris Leslie, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “George Osborne has finally emerged, but he still hasn’t answered any of the key questions over the HSBC scandal. He cannot continue to duck responsibility for HMRC’s failure to act or the decision to make Lord Green a Conservative Minister.
“Why has there only been one prosecution out of 1,100 names? Why did George Osborne and David Cameron appoint Lord Green as a Minister months after the government received these files? Did they discuss tax evasion at HSBC with Lord Green, or did they turn a blind eye?
“And why did the Treasury sign a deal with the Swiss authorities in 2012 which prevents the UK from actively obtaining similar information in the future?”
According to The Guardian, a YouGov survey for the Times Red Box found 62% of people want the chancellor to answer these questions.
The longer he leaves it, the less electable his Conservative Party becomes…
… and the more like a gang of crooks covering their friends’ backs.
Remember back in school, when you were taught that we have laws in place to ensure justice for everybody?
Isn’t it a shame you weren’t taught the facts?
It seems every clearer that laws are written by whoever is rich enough to buy the politicians who enact them – especially in a Conservative, or Conservative-led, government.
So – for example – if you are one of the elite super-rich who, between them, have an alleged £20+ trillion stowed in offshore tax haven bank accounts, you could happily bung a few thousand – or indeed a few hundred thousand – to the Tories to stop their Chancellor from increasing the powers of HM Revenue & Customs to track them down and make them pay their fair share.
That could explain the discrepancy between what Tory Chancellor George Osborne said in April and what he’s saying now.
Back in April, he told us he was consulting on a new criminal offence carrying a possible prison sentence that will ensnare people with undeclared foreign income – even if they did not intend to evade taxes.
Osborne said: “We are changing the balance of the law so the burden of proof falls on those who are hiding their money offshore and we don’t have to prove that they intended to do so.”
“It is totally unacceptable for people not to pay the tax that is due and the message will be clear now with this new criminal offence that if you’re evading tax offshore, there is no safe haven and we will find you.”
What is he saying about it now?
Instead, the plan to make offshore tax evasion a criminal offence has been quietly dropped from a draft Financial Bill that was published last week.
According to Citywire, Ray McCann, partner at Pinsent Masons, told the Financial Times: “I think that the proposal is now likely to quietly disappear. There is no substance to it [italics mine].”
Perhaps we should be checking for more substantial donations to the Conservative Party, between April and today’s date, instead.
When David Cameron stands up in all his hypocrisy and tells you that tearing apart the basic safety net that guaranteed people would not be left in hunger or destitution is part of his “moral mission”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the country has taken a turn for the worse.
When he defends an administration that has become so punitive that applicants who don’t get it right have to wait without food for months at a time, by claiming he is doing “what is right”, even die-hard Tories should agree that the man who claims he is Prime Minister has diverged from reality.
That is precisely what he has done, and you can bet that the Tory diehards will quietly go along with it because they think it is far better for other people to lose their lives than it is for their government to lose face.
Cameron has been responding after the Catholic Bishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, delivered a vehement attack on the social security “reforms” being forced on the country’s most vulnerable people by Iain Duncan Smith.
In the Daily Telegraph, Cameron smarmed: “Our long-term economic plan for Britain is not just about doing what we can afford, it is also about doing what is right… Nowhere is that more true than in welfare. For me the moral case for welfare reform is every bit as important as making the numbers add up.
“We are in the middle of a long and difficult journey turning our country around,” Cameron said. “That means difficult decisions to get our deficit down, making sure that the debts of this generation are not our children’s to inherit.
“But our welfare reforms go beyond that alone – they are about giving new purpose, new opportunity, new hope – and yes, new responsibility to people who had previously been written off with no chance.
“Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long-term economic plan – and it is at the heart too of our social and moral mission in politics today.”
Drivel. Any evidence-based analysis will find the exact opposite. Where are the opportunities in Workfare schemes that pay only benefits, meaning travel expenses alone put claimants out of pocket, and then send jobseekers back to the dole queue so rich companies can profit further by taking on more claimants on the same terms?
How can anyone derive hope from taking responsibility for their job search, when DWP staff at Jobcentre Plus are ordered to ignore their own responsibilities in favour of harsh sanctions for invented infringements of the Jobseeker’s Agreement?
And how is encouraging people to say they are self-employed, even though they have little chance of earning enough to support them and none of enjoying a holiday or a pension, different from writing them off with no chance?
Look at the new employment figures from the Office for National Statistics – the Coalition government has been making a song and dance about them ever since they came out. On the face of it, they seem reliable: In December 2013, 30.15 million people were in work of some kind, up by 396,000 from the same time the previous year; there were 2.34 million unemployed, down 161,000 from December 2012; and the Claimant Count (those on Jobseekers’ Allowance) was 1.22 million in January, down 327,000 from a year earlier.
However, the number of people marked as self-employed has rocketed to a record level, totalling one in seven of the workforce. That’s 4,370,000 – up 150,000 on the previous year. This is extremely suspicious, as the increase in the previous year totalled 25,000 – just one-sixth of this week’s figure.
Some of these people might be genuinely self-employed and making their new business work – but all of them? In an economy where productivity hasn’t increased since the Coalition took office? You’d have to be stupid to believe that.
Assuming the amount of real self-employment has increased in line with economic growth (at 1.9 per cent), that’s an extra 25,475 in 2013, leaving 124,525 in limbo. Are these really self-employed? Or were they told by Jobcentre advisors to say so and claim working tax credits (as we’ve seen in the past), leading to a huge debt when HMRC tells them they have been claiming fraudulently and have been overpaid?
How many of the unemployed have been wiped off the books due to sanctions? We don’t know, because we don’t have figures up to December 2013. We do know that 897,690 sanctions were enforced in the year to September 2013. We don’t know how many were for one month, how many for three months or how many for three years, but we do know that the rate was six per cent of jobseekers per month in the three months to the end of September 2013. Assuming that rate stayed solid, it suggests that 73,200 were off-benefit due to sanctions in December and should be added to the Claimant Count to give a more accurate figure.
How many of the unemployed have been wiped off the books due to Workfare? We don’t know. How many are unemployed but on Universal Credit, which isn’t included in the Claimant Count? We don’t know – 3,610 were on it at the end of November last year, but the DWP has not divided them into those in work and those without.
David Cameron has access to all of this information, and he doesn’t care. He also has access to the mortality figures for claimants of Incapacity Benefit/Employment and Support Allowance, that the DWP has been withholding from the rest of us, probably for fear of sparking an international outcry. He doesn’t care about that either.
His comments are therefore doubly outrageous – not only is he claiming that his Coalition’s changes are having a beneficial effect when the figures demonstrate the opposite, but he is also claiming the moral high ground when his actions are more appropriate to the populace of the Pit.
In terms of his morality, there can be only one description for him and his cronies:
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