Worse than MP’s expenses?

Yes, the last Parliament was septic, with the expenses business poisoning the political landscape.

And, yes, it was necessary to clear the swamp, duck houses, moats and John Lewis lists included.

And, yes — again, the less-guilty seem to have suffered worse than those offenders protected by David Cameron’s gilded circle and ring-of-self-confidence.

Now we have the other shoe dropping.

From the BBC website:

The leader of a union for senior civil servants has urged the government to end arrangements under which some employees can avoid paying income tax.

Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the First Division Association, said it was an “issue of morality”.

He told the BBC that Whitehall had to be more “transparent” in its dealings.

The comments follow reports that the Department of Health was paying the salaries of 25 senior staff direct to limited companies…

BBC Newsnight recently revealed that the head of the Student Loans Company, Ed Lester, had not been added to the organisation’s payroll, but had instead been paid through a private firm.

From Whitehall to Town Hall, there’s a stench

Private Eye‘s Rotten Boroughs page has been hammering at similar excesses in local government for some considerable time. The current issue notes two obvious offenders:

First off, David Cameron’s “favourite” council, Hammersmith and Fulham, where —

Nick Johnson (Eyes passim), former chief exec of Bexley council, who was taken on at more than £1,000 a day despite having retired from Bexley on grounds of ill-health and receiving a local government pension. Local government rules require people in receipt of pensions to repay some or all of the money if they go back to work. Employing Johnson as a company called “Davies Johnson Ltd” gets round the letter, if not the spirit of such regulations.

An internal review, intended for the eyes of H&F cabinet members only, concluded that H&F has been operating outside UK tax laws.

Malcolm was delighted, then, to find the oleaginous Harry Phibbs (by name and by nature — and, as left, in full saturnine splendour) in full rant about councillors’ expenses, and how H&F were so remarkably abstemious. Phibbs, it should be noted, treble-jobs as:

  • a journo for the London Evening Standard,
  • is ConHome’s local government editor,
  • and is a Tory councillor and “Cabinet Member for Community Engagement” at H&F.

We have decided to publish the league table of basic allowances so that there is proper transparency. How interesting that some of the poorest boroughs – Barking & Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Haringey, Lambeth, Southwark, Newham – are among those paying over £10,000 a year to their councillors. They are the ones whose councillors are most likely to give morally indignant speeches attacking the rich and denouncing spending cuts as inevitably being an attack on the vulnerable.

 Unfortunately Phibbs failed to notice that the top three offenders in his hate-list are Croydon, Wandsworth and Bromley, all Tory fiefdoms.

 Second, in the Eye’s parade of greatest hits:
Another council in which tax-avoiding consultancies are all the rage is Isle of Wight, where £155,000-a-year “director of resources Dave Burbage is paid by the sole-trader outfit “Dsve Burbage Consulting Ltd” (Eyes passim). This is not only “tax-efficient”, it also relieves Burbage of the burden of having to pay back some of his £80,000 pension to the London Borough of Newham, from which he took early retirement as chief exec in 2007.
A similar headache has luckily been avoided with the recent departure, a year before the end of his contract, of educatio
n chief Roger Edwardson, who commuted to the Island from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, trading as “Roger Edwardson Education and Children’s Services Ltd”.
Since 2005 the Isle of Wight Council has enjoyed Tory political control.
Cleft hoof-note
A certain Malcolm Redfellow, surely some relation, left a comment on Phibbs’s effort at the ConHome site:
It would be cruel to mention Brian Coleman in this connection.
This earned the response:
You’ve just spoiled this thread …
The image, right, of Mr Toad (in dynamic action mode) owes a lot to the excellent work of Adam Bienkov, who has the full account of Toad’s depradations.
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Britain, broken society, ConHome, Conservative Party policy., David Cameron, London, Private Eye, sleaze., Tories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s