Saturday, June 20, 2009

How Can MPs Possibly Overclaim on Council Tax?

I've just been reading about the 50 MPs who have claimed too much council tax on expenses. Maybe I am being thick or naive, but how exactly is it possible to overclaim on council tax? Each March you get a bill from the council telling you exactly what the amount is, and how it can be divided into ten instalments. How is it then possible to claim a different amount?

Surely the Fees Office should have demanded a copy of the bill from the local council. Apparently not. You see, until this year receipts were not required for monthly claims of less than £250.

Sometimes it is possible to blame the system. But in this case, that's too easy an option. The fact of the matter is that 50 MPs were so lax in their own personal administration that they just couldn't be bothered to put in for the right amount.

The only saving grace, I suppose, is that it certainly won't happen again!

48 comments:

Alex said...

Naive. They stole it. Next question.

disillusioned Dale blog reader said...

Am I the only person who sees a certain paradox in MP's being able to claim for Council Tax? For those of us mortals who earn less than £30,000 a year, it is a frighteningly large percentage of our monthly spend.

Yes, I know that it's only on their second home, and all that jazz, but maybe if they had to pay it twice, this tax would disappear rather quickly..........

MikeyP said...

You don't think it is because a significant number of MPs are thieving hoons, then?

Anonymous said...

Why won't it happen again?

They'll just hide it better or if Brown's spreadsheet idea goes ahead they'll just continue as before.

It's obviouslly fraud but the police will do nothing nor will the prosecution service.
Someone might ask to see their expenses.

Imagine what would happen to a normal person who made such a defence in court.

Anand said...

f ever there was a case for getting Plod involved for Fraud carges, this is it.

It is one thing for the rues to state receipts not required, but quite another to find evidence that MP's have claimed for expenses not incurred.

ANYONE caught overcharging for council tax via abuse of the no receipts loophole needs to be prosecuted imo.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Given: -

(1) Accountancy is "not my strong point" (J. Straw), and

(2) Only the little people should pay taxes,

it is staggering the claims for reimbursement are only modestly in excess of the actual amounts of council tax paid over.

Cynic said...

Its easy. You pay 10 instalments but claim 12 times because you put in the same expenses claim form every month.

Now what does that tell you about the rest of the claims on that form every month?

Mike Law said...

I think one of them said on this mornings news that they were "encouraged" by staff in the fees office to claim for the maximum allowance on this...

What next? One of the Westminster security guards told me I should vote for an National DNA database and ID cards.

Unbelievable! And these people are supposed to represent us on national and international issues!

Anonymous said...

If these are genuine mistakes and not simple theft, then presumably there's another 50 or so MPs who under-claimed?

strapworld said...

I know my views here will not get support, but I believe IF the Tory party are genuine in wanting politics to be clean they have to take a very serious look at themselves.

How can they possibly allow David Cameron to remain leader of the party when he is just as bad as the others? Another apology! simply not good enough. You or I would be sacked for this!

He has a shadow cabinet, whom too many have had their hands in the till.

If the tory party want to be elected, they really must ask themselves. "Are the people really being asked to elect a bunch of chancers?

Would they accept a cabinet where the majority will have brought discredit upon themselves and the party over their expense claims?

David Cameron is as guilty as them all. He should consider his position.

The anger of the people will be seen, when they turn against those they regard as cheats,at the general election.

'safe' seats will not exist! There will be no such thing for those guilty MP's as voters show their disgust!

The conservatives must present themselves as a clean party and they must have a clean leader and shadow cabinet!

Fausty said...

Precisely, Iain. Have any under-claimed?

JBW said...

strapworld said...
"I know my views here will not get support, but I believe IF the Tory party are genuine in wanting politics to be clean they have to take a very serious look at themselves."

I agree, but...

Unlike the EU election, I'm sure many voters will make a calculation of "What do I want more? A slightly dodgy Tory MP, or do I want to get shot of this very dodgy government".

Voting for fringe parties is great fun when the election doesn't count, but the next general election is serious, and that will over ride some of these expenses revelations imho.

Mind you, our MP is Francis Maude, who is sitting on such a safe seat that I doubt he will be seriously bothered whether I vote for him or not.

May be we need a 'green' revolution as well.

Lola said...

Classic. Get the taxpayer to pay your tax for you. Makes me wonder why I should pay any tax at all. Never mind the fact that all state employees income tax is merely a rebate to the rest of us in private business.

Gareth said...

Cynic said: "Its easy. You pay 10 instalments but claim 12 times because you put in the same expenses claim form every month."

And then claim a 50% reduction because it's not your main home and pocket the difference.

Anonymous said...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5581726/MPs-expenses-Brian-Binley-made-16000-claim-for-picking-the-brains-of-media-adviser.html

You defend Brian Binley on an earlier post but what about this? Come on be true to yourself is he legit ?

jon dee said...

It stinks to high heaven and I hope the police take an interest in it.
Talking about stink :

" MP's plot to abandon publication of receipts." The Times.

I hope David Cameron is watching this carefully, because it sounds suspicious and predidictable.

There are indeed better accounting systems than those used currently and spreadsheets could be part of them, without excluding receipts.

I fear further creative accounting is being planned by political opportunists reluctant to disembark from the gravy train.

denverthen said...

There is no 'saving grace'. If I fiddled my council tax, I'd get pinched. That's government policy, laughably.

They fiddled theirs so they should expect the same. End of.

I'm getting pretty bloody sick and tired of this stuff. And of sympathetic political commentators' fake ire. Get a grip: call a thief a thief and a liar a stinking liar.

Abuse of public office is punishable with life imprisonment. Perhaps the next time you have a cosy chat with Alan Duncan, you should tell him to pass that information on to his mates and adversaries in the House of Commons.

You might think this is still all just about politics, Mr Dale. I suppose you would because that's how you make your living and more power to you for that.

Me: I've just about had enough. And I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

1. Forget to re-register as a second home owner. 2. Receive full bill and pass to Fees Office (or use on 10 monthly occasions). 3. Admit "mistake"; get new bill for 90% (the days of 50% off are long gone for many). 4. Pocket the 10%.

mike ohare said...

Surely if 50 were doing it, they must have discussed iit in the bars. Would this not then become a conspiracy to defraud?

Michael Heaver said...

Won't they?

Scrobs... said...

So when will the nobodies at The Fees Office have their collar felt?

Maladministration?

Enter Plod with a Thesaurus under each arm...

Anonymous said...

I wasn't going to contribute but the WV is fulating.

ranger1640 said...

After reading the Telegraph today it seems they are all at it.

The question is, if has been suggested by MP’s that these misdemeanours (their words) were purely oversights, then how can they be expected to deal with the complex issues of running the country?

Well they can’t be trusted to run the country as they are all too busy shafting us with their expenses.

Seriously how can we trust another thing an MP says? They continue to be evasive at best and liars at worst. They are showing no desire to change the way they talk to the electorate or treat the electorate or how they are going to open up to the electorate.

If it is as it has been suggested in the Times, they will not publish their expenses receipts after the expenses review they are going to put it on a spread sheet. This is another show of monumental contempt for us the electorate.

My only regret is that we have not seen street protests over the expenses scandal.

Take for example Peter and Iris Robinson, they both claimed 28K for a mortgage on the same property. Shit that must be some mortgage?

Not only that they clamed 8K in food, that is half of my wife’s annual salary. They then employ two of their 3 children at what ever, again that is another shitload of taxpayer’s money going into the Robinsons bank accounts.

On the online MP’s expenses site, they clamed in November 07 between them over 27K no doubt to be paid into their bank accounts before Christmas, they then claimed again in March they both claimed another 13K.

http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslordsandoffices/hocallowances/allowances-by-mp/peter-robinson/Peter_Robinson_0708_ACA.pdf

http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslordsandoffices/hocallowances/allowances-by-mp/iris-robinson/Iris_Robinson_0708_ACA.pdf

SteveShark said...

http://steveshark.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/these-men-need-balls/

Now that the troughers have all been exposed, the chief troughers need to take tough and effective measures.
So far they haven't.

The fact that Blears can survive just shows you how the leaders haven't exerted their authority and tackled their local parties.

I'm convinced that nothing will really change.

SteveShark said...

@Scrobs

Quite.

It occurred to me that there could have been some rather interesting ways in which civil servants could have supplemented their own income whilst boosting the MPs'

doodledandy said...

It is very easy to overclaim on council tax. I have produced a guide to it no less:-

http://moralorder.mediumisthemess.com/blog

sunonmars said...

Actually I'm a little confused because no one seems to be able to answer. This needs investigating.

David Milliband has claimed a 50% discount on his 2nd home for 4 years as i look through saying it is unoocupied "empty property". Now if its empty how can he claim its his second home and why is he claiming thousands upon thousands to do it up if its empty, its either council tax fraud or expnses fraud.

Which is it?

Anonymous said...

Never mind coucil tax Hague is saying (ConHome) "bad laws should be repealed"-assume first item in Gov. will be Lisbon Treaty.Or didn't he really mean that either?

Carl Menson said...

Looks like the Labour trolls are out in force.

But I wish Iain - and other bloggers - would stop just using the word 'MPs' when talking about expense scams. It's 'LABOUR MPs'. Please don't peddle the BBC line that 'they're all as bad as each other'. This is a Labour problem, end of.

Oxbridge Prat said...

If Hague is indeed planning to repeal "bad laws" then there is an excellent list conveniently available.

Anonymous said...

If you are choked off about council tax - take a look at the Istfair web site (isitfair.co.uk) - and join the action,

jafo said...

""How Can MPs Possibly Overclaim on Council Tax?"

Not unintentially, you can't; not every month for years, you can't.

Saying the Fees Office told them to do it? They must think we all came down with the last rain....... It is easily proved, is it not? Get a sworn statement from everyone in the Fees Office as to exactly what they did tell MPs about Council Tax claims. Guess how many of those statements will say they deliberately told MPs to overclaim....don't think we need guess the answer there. Why should the Fees Office admit to conspiracy to defraud? Why should they do such a thing - no advantage to them, was there?

Further fraud investigations for the Police, I feel.

tory boys never grow up said...

What about Michael Fallon who claimed 20% of the Council Tax bill (plus 20% of the heat and light bills) for a private residence in Sevenoaks (his main residence) as well as the full council tax bill for his 2nd home in Central London. If the claim was for his private residence - he may well have broken the Green Book rules which require that amounts claimed as as part of the IEP be "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" for parlimentary purposes. This is the same test as applies for those subject to PAYE - try claiming for 20% of your home council tax bill on your tax return and see how HMRC treat you!

doodledandy said...

They are all as bad as eachother.
One day we will realise that everyone is bad:-
http://moralorder.mediumisthemess.com/blog

Anonymous said...

ANGELA SMITH MP for Basildon - overclaimed Council Tax.

In 2004/05 she claimed for 12 instalments of council tax instead of just 10.

In 2005/06 she claimed for 12 instalments of council tax instead of just 10.

In 2006/07 she claimed 11 instalemtns instead of 10.

In 2007/08 she claimed 11 instalments but realised her mistacke and paid this back in March 2007.

She still overclaimed 5 instalments of council tax.

Her second home is jointly owned with her husband - the mortgage is in joint names (her husbands name remains on one of the mortgage statements) Yet we pay 100% of the mortgage - is this right that taxpayers pay 100% of the mortgage instead of just 50%?

She also claimed £13,900 in food in 4 years. When challenged by the Evening Echo newspaper she said Parliament sits till 11pm and when she got in didnt want to cook - so the food bill is mainly on eating out!

Anonymous said...

Reading today's Telegraph special supplement on the MP's expenses,it really struck me how these corrupt bxxxxx have ruined any trust in this country.

I have not seen any special supplements about how the country will get out of the recession or how we are going to educate our children better - simply a supplement on how a group of people ripped us off.

If a group of campaigners can march on Downing St today re Hillsborough,when are we - the people of England GOING to speak - should we not ALL march on Downing St this week to demand Brown leaves and call's an election - after all he is now bleating about how hurt he is - did fxcking ums....

Oh - and good luck with the show and try to avoid any speed cameras!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if these council tax claimers were straight, people would have claimed the total amount in one hit and produced a receipt.However by claming on a monthly basis no receipt was required and therefore presented an opportunity to profit from the system I think these claims were an attempt to fiddle expenses,end of.

SteveShark said...

"Looks like the Labour trolls are out in force.
Please don't peddle the BBC line that 'they're all as bad as each other'. This is a Labour problem, end of."

Sorry, but that's a total crock.

Haven't you read the files?

Obviously not...

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

So about 50 MPs who are either frauds or thieves.

Just on the council tax basis alone - add on the phantom mortgage claimants, the CGT evaders and so on and it seems criminal activity is endemic amongst our so-called leaders.

They really are a pack of shits

My local MP's expenses seem reasonable (and I've looked) - however he's paid £500 a month to a consultant who's name has been "redacted" for which read concealed.

I'm now assuming this beneficiary of our largesse is a member of his close family - seems a reasonable assumption given the way these hoons behave.

And still the feckless government is running adverts threatening all sorts of punishment for benefit cheats

Anonymous said...

"Maybe I am being thick or naive, but how exactly is it possible to overclaim on council tax? Each March you get a bill -----"

Iain, you are too innocent for this wicked world.

Just put the prayer book down and DO try to understand.

Great Big Billygoat Gruff said...

DENVERTHEN

Spot bloody on.

No more "but is all politics" bollocks.

We the Great Unwashed would get hanged for this by The Plod, The Taxman and The Vatman.

Why are they above the law?

Have a look at Eric Joyce MP being kippered by Gordon Brewer on Newsnicht.

This is what is governing us.

A "Second Home", convenient for Westminster.

I think he had a flat an hour at least away from Westminster with no late trains


http://tinyurl.com/nrk938



Watch the arrogance to the voters and if Gareth is correct the scam has a scam inside it!

Unfuckingbelievable, but anything goes now, we are in a twilight zone of reality.

If you look at the video, tell me if he is drunk or buzzed up?

cherami said...

The Rump Parliament?

Le Parliament des culs d'anes.

(It sounds better in English, but that is an invitation direct to be suppressed.)

Oh, what the hell: the Parliament of Asses' Arseholes.

Joe Public said...

"How Can MPs Possibly Overclaim on Council Tax?"

Because they're MPs & thought they could get away with it.

Are they actually FIT to try to govern us?

Nigel Allery said...

Because they are MP's we presume a) they are honest. b) They are intelligent. Sometimes neither are true. Of course some are. Parliament has many articulate, brown nosing, charletans. Good at getting on the party list for selection, and good at following the party line for staying there, and good at lying to the electorate so they can get elected.
But mostly as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Mark M said...

How do they do it?

Because they couldn't organise a knees up in a brewery, as the saying almost goes.

From where I sit, I can reach into a cupboard to pull out my council tax bill, which shows 1 payment of £100.17 and 9 of £104. I do this because if I don't I'll pay the wrong amount and the council will come after me.

Many MPs, apparently so used to frittering away other peoples money that they can barely be bothered to keep track of it, just don't care. £1,000 or £1,200. Who cares, it's all someone else's money, they think.

It's an utter disgrace.

None of the above said...

How?

because like the spoilt middle class careerists they are, they imagined they could do whatever they liked and they'd remain untouchable.

The worst part of it, is the inability to hold their hands up to something that is so obviously wrong it verges on being amusing. I'd stop voting if I hadn't done that already.

Whiffler said...

Certainly, MPs have been careless (to be unduly fair to them).

However, the professionals here are meant to be the staff in the fees office.

Have they no guidance on these things to help allow/disallow/part-allow payments?. Do none of them or their families/friends pay Council Tax and therefore be aware that many/most councils accept 10 part-payments?.

If you pay peamuts, you get monkies. You need some good, honest people in the fees office more than you need a 'reforming' Speaker.

This government and its placeman have 'reformed' the Speakership (until it's now damaged goods), 'reformed' the House of Lords (until it's now part-populated by 'working' peers who take money for influence, and 'reformed' PMQs so that more questions are put BY the PM than he ever addresses or answers.

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