The Wintertons transferred the property to a trust to avoid £280,000 inheritance tax – a not unusual arrangement – however their arrangement had a twist. They themselves are the trustees, their children are the beneficiaries. The trustees (the Wintertons) charged the tenants (the Wintertons) £21,600 a year rent, which was paid by the taxpayer (you).
That arrangement over five years would, by Guido’s estimation, net
them the trust £108,000 tax free, equivalent before tax to £180,000 to an ordinary taxpayer. The Standards and Privileges Committee has ruled that those payments are against the rules.
So will the estimated £108,000 paid to their own trust be repaid to the taxpayer? If not, why not?
Ed and Yvette Balls are Labour’s equivalent to the Wintertons. Mr and Mrs Balls are paid by the taxpayers quarter-of-a-million a year between them to ride around in ministerial limos, yet so hard done by are they that they still need to claim tens of thousands extra in mortgage subsidy on top. The cabinet pair have registered their North London house as a ‘second home’ under parliamentary rules, entitling them to allowances of up to £43,200 a year to subsidise their £438,000 mortgage.
The home in Yorkshire nearer to their constituencies was previously called their second home. But by simply declaring their more expensive London house to be their secondary residence, they can claim more money from taxpayers. The rules state that their primary residence, against which they cannot claim, is the home in which they are ordinarily resident. They spend most of their time in London at their “second home” and their kids go to schools locally. When Andrew Neil recently challenged Ed Balls about this live on television, Ed said “it is complicated”. No it isn’t, it is a fiddle to extract more pork out of the taxpayer. They are defrauding the taxpayers by lying as to where their primary residence is actually located. Shamelessly.
They have in the past done the now commonplace ruse of re-mortgaging a home that has had the mortgage paid down by the taxpayers subsidy to realise profits as well. By lying that their main home is actually their second home they are now entitled to hit up the taxpayer for any appliances they can buy in John Lewis, household repairs, kitchen re-fits and even groceries.
The Wintertons and the Balls are just two everyday examples of plain and simple wholesale looting by the political class. Why are they allowed to get away with it, unpunished even on the rare occasions when they are found to have broken the very lax rules? Why shouldn’t they be asked to pay back the monies by the Parliamentary authorities? The Standards and Privileges Committee, made up of MPs, has ruled that the Wintertons broke the rules and were not entitled to the payments. What is the punishment? They will continue to be paid the rule breaking payments for another three months. They won’t be asked to repay the payments, they will continue to receive the payments from the Fees Office for another three months to allow them make alternative arrangements. Does that strike you as taking the piss?
Compare the treatment of the troughing Wintertons to the treatment of an unfortunate researcher working for an MP (Guido knows her identity). She was over-paid an extra month after she terminated her employment with David Ruffley MP. She thought it was her termination bonus. Some months later she was contacted by the very same Fees Office asking for re-payment. She explained she thought it was her bonus, and that she had spent it and could only afford to repay it in installments. The Fees Office refused to accept her offer and are currently taking her to Court for a mistake not of her making. A very different kind of justice for her…