An Apple A Day: Fabian Takes A Byte Out Of Taxpayers

A quick totting up of Fabian Hamilton’s Additional Cost Allowance for the last four years reveals that it has cost the taxpayers of North East Leeds £14,000 to keep their MP well fed.

A number of months’ expenses forms are missing from today’s releases, so either Hamilton didn’t claim anything for May & June 2006 and between January-March 2007 (ha!) or we will have to wait to see if that tab goes up. However, of the forty-four expenses claims submitted, in only nine did he fail to claim the maximum food allowance of £400; even in May 2005, when he only claims from the 6th of the month (and therefore adjusts the claim for his mortgage, utility and rates claims accordingly) Fabian still managed to get his full portion of free grub.

Taxpayers may also be interested to know that they’ve paid over £3700 to keep Mr Hamilton clean for the last four years; over £1500 to paint and decorate his house; forked out £4400 on a new boiler and service heating system (presumably he’s not carrying enough taxpayer-subsidised calories to keep him warm) ; paid four grand for the installation of a new kitchen, £1250 on two new TVs plus £350 for two DVD players (Note to self: check Hamilton doesn’t have a conjoined twin – this may be real reason why he is eating for two); furnished his home with a £439 wardrobe, a £450 chest of draws, and an £800 bed; and upgraded his windows to the tune of two and a half grand.

Then there is June 2004 when Hamilton claimed £5363.87 for “renewal of bathroom & repair caused by leaks”, £681.50 for “replacement of rotten windows in bedroom”, and £159 for “new floor tiles” – but the form has been blacked out so it’s impossible to tell whether he has spent the last few years  living in a water-damaged hovel or not.

And this isn’t bringing up how anyone can possibly claim an ‘oversight’ when their mortage claims jump from £343 one month to £1062.53 the next.

So let’s swiftly move on to the “Communication Allowance”.

There are so many claims you’d be forgiven for thinking that Fab was running his own multimedia empire and Tiberius has not yet had the time to go through all of them. However, as pointed out  by recent commenter “Charcoal”, one thing that does stand out is the number of items and services being purchased from ‘Serif Systems’ and its related ‘Pi Internet’. These include an £810 “Canon HV 20 Video Camera”,  and a £468 “video podcast 1 year account”. There are two additional payments to PI for “Homebuild Starter Self-build Website” (£549.90) and “Website update of design” (£468.83).

Now admittedly, Hamilton does have quite a decent website, but nowhere does it offer a Ricky Gervais-esque ‘podcast’. Presumably the camera is used as part of the IContactFabian service, where constituents get to see Fabian online as he solves their problems, however this can easily be done for free using services such as Skype or MSN messenger. Are there really people in Leeds so desperate to see Fabian in super high-definition they’d be willing to fork out over a grand for the privilege!?

Anyway, a quick Google search of “Serif Systems” and”Fabian Hamilton” turns up this interesting piece of information from a 1997 article in The Lawyer:

However, Hamilton, in an argument which is likely to be mirrored when the prosecution comes to court, claimed in his High Court bid before Lord Justice Brooke and Justice Gage that the allegations against him are pure technicalities.

They include complaints over alleged failure to display the company name outside Serif Systems, a computer company of which Hamilton is joint owner,and failure to disclose his previous surname, Uziel-Hamilton, to company registration authorities. [Emphasis added]

Also worthy of note are Lord Justice Brooke’s comments at that time:

In dismissing Hamilton’s High Court bid to end the prosecution moves, Lord Justice Brooke said that Hamilton had already been the subject of adverse publicity over his business affairs, including the collapse of previous companies in which he was involved. One had gone into liquidation owing £106,000 and another was wound up with debts of £60,000. [Emphasis added]

“I guess it must be tough to keep a business going when you’re not getting taxpayer funded contracts through..”, Tiberius muses, apropos of nothing.

Onto the Incidental Expenses Provision/Staff Allowance, this is a 225 page beast and Tiberius doesn’t claim to have comprehensively covered it. However,  the first page indicates another payment to PI Internet – £1715.50 for various ADSL charges; p.32 shows some invoices from Serif for PC repairs; p.63: more payments to PI amounting to £500 plus for various internet services, and another £200+ on p.84; p.116: £141, this time to Serif for fixing some ‘syncing’ problems; p.120: £116.33 to PI for more online mailboxes (must be a popular guy); £88  to Serif to repair a ‘noisy fan’ on his iMac (p.156), and £52.88 for Anti-Virus software (p.161); and finally, a whopping £761.99 to Serif for two scanners plus warranties (p.204), and £1298.39 to PI for various broadband/ADSL services (p.208). There are another three years of IEP claims to go through, but Tiberius currently lacks the stomach for it.

Now, Tiberius isn’t saying that Mr Hamilton is still involved in any way with Serif Systems (the company of which he was formerly Managing Director) or with its affiliated Pi internet (and there is no mention of either of them on the Register of Interests on TWFY.com), he’s simply pointing out how sweet it is that Fabian keeps throwing so much business their way. 

 Finally, for those worrying that their MP isn’t hip enough, it may reassure you to know that your taxes have paid for his Macbook (£799) , Iphone (£283.99), an 8GB Ipod Nano (£135.13) – and there was Tiberius thinking that Fabian would hate apples.

See also: Fabian Vs Satire; Feed Your MP; From Gravy-Train To Bread-Line

Advertisements
Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

The Children’s Crusade

Dear Mr Brown … Leeds 10-year-old writes in disgust over MPs:

A 10-year-old is so outraged by the MPs’ expenses scandal that she has written an angry letter to the Prime Minister.

Kennedy Greenwood told Gordon Brown in her “strongly-worded” letter, left, that she was “appalled” by the behaviour of some MPs.

She said they had committed an “unforgivable crime” and added: “I would strongly recommend for the MPs to pay back every penny.”

Tiberius especially enjoyed this line:

She threatened to write again if the controversy comes up again.

“Fairly Warned Be Thee, Says I!”

Update

Kennedy gets a mention in today’s Mail:

Kennedy, from Guiseley, Leeds is a member of a journalism club at her school, Tranmere Park Primary. Her mother Lynne, 43, said: ‘I was really amazed that at ten she had picked up on it and knew it was seriously wrong.’

Yesterday Mr Brown said he was very grateful for Kennedy’s suggestions and promised to write back.

If only this city had a few more journalists as hard-nosed as Little Miss Greenwood.

Published in: on May 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Tax: More Taxing Than You’d Think

Benn: Gunna Get Probed!

Benn: Gunna Get Probed!

Following on from Monday’s revelations about the help being given to numerically-challenged cabinet MPs in the form of tax-payer-payed accountants, last night the Telegraph reported that their own chat with the tax man was quite revealing.

The BBC summarises:

Revenue officials are investigating if MPs have broken the law by not paying tax after claiming personal accounting costs on expenses, the BBC understands.

Nearly 40 ministers were reimbursed a total of at least £25,000 for help with tax returns, the Daily Telegraph said, but such fees are not tax-deductible.

[..]

The paper, which has obtained the expenses claims of all 646 MPs, also reports that nine cabinet ministers and 30 junior ministers used allowances meant for the running of their offices to pay for personal tax advice.

It said MPs had been given specific guidance from the taxman in 2005 that advice on self-assessment tax returns could not be regarded as a tax-free expense and were in effect a “benefit in kind”.

A Revenue and Customs spokesman told the BBC: “It’s a general principle of tax law that accountancy fees incurred in connection with the completion of a personal tax return are not deductible.

“This is because the costs of complying with the law are not an allowable expense against tax. This rule applies across the board.”

David Grossman, of the BBC’s Newsnight programme, said tax office sources had indicated they were looking at MPs’ previous tax returns to see whether they had complied with the law.

[emphasis added]

The piece also contains this scandolous allegation:

Business groups have expressed concerns said MPs might be being “treated differently” to other taxpayers.

If entrepreneurs sought professional tax advice, they had to pay the fee themselves and offset it against any profits on which they paid tax, it has been claimed.

“MPs being “treated differently” to the rest of us!?”, shrieks Tiberius,  “Shame on you for even thinking such a thing Mr. I-Should-Mind-My-Own-Business group!”

See also:No Account-Ability; Fabian Vs Satire; Feed Your MP; From Gravy-Train To Bread-Line

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 5:02 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

No Account-Ability

Taxed: Benn Needs A Little More Help

Taxed: Benn Needs A Little Extra Help

In today’s Telegraph, the ongoing exposé of MPs’ expenses reached the heart of Leeds, in the form of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ tax returns.

Ministers caught claiming for party political propaganda:

Harriet Harman and five other Cabinet ministers were told they had breached the Commons’ rules on office expenses by allowing party political propaganda to be published in taxpayer-funded annual reports, leaflets and on taxpayer-funded website. [.]

Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, fell foul of the rules by including “several articles relating to government policy and initiatives … which are not appropriate” for a taxpayer-funded annual report.

A spokesman for Mr Benn said that following advice from the fees office, he funded the report himself.

And, to avoid further confusion about what can and cannot be claimed for, the BBC reports:

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn is among nine cabinet members who used £11,000 of taxpayers’ money to pay for personal accountancy advice, it has emerged.

They go on to quote the excuses explanations of a “Labour source”:

“The fees office Green Book – which sets out the rules and advice on behalf of the parliamentary authorities – states specifically that professional advice, for example from accountants or solicitors, is an allowable expense.

“In order that MPs comply fully with all the relevant requirements relating to tax, and to ensure they are properly meeting all their tax liabilities, may rightly seek professional assistance and advice where this relates specifically to their role as members of Parliament.”

So, to paraphrase: “In order to ensure that MPs do not actually break any laws, taxpayers should be expected to pay for them to be professionally advised as to how far those laws may be stretched”.

“Brilliant!”, exclaims Tiberius “Why don’t we just take the next logical step and start paying our representatives to not commit any crimes..!?”

Either that, or we send in this man to sort things out:

Nice Shirt

Nice Shirt

“Tax: It Doesn’t Have To Be Taxing” says Mr Hart-Davis.

“And it’s even less so if you get a free accountant” says Mr Leodis.

See also: Fabian Vs Satire; Feed Your MP; From Gravy-Train To Bread-Line

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 10:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Fabian Vs Satire

Long-time Weary Surfer, WonderboyInMonsterland, has been in touch to point out some pertinent Fab-Facts from the MP’s area on theyworkforyou.com

A “Who Woulda Thunk It?” comes in the form of the first item on Mr Hamilton’s voting record:

Who Woulda Thunk It?

But for irony-unadulterated, we need look no further than the “Committees and topics of interest”, and “Register of Member’s Interests” to find that:

Mortage EndowmentBook Keeper

That’s right, the same man wh0 in 2004,  according to the Daily Telegraph:

admitted over-claiming on his expenses by nearly £3,000, charging for the full cost of his mortgage as well as the interest-only element to which he was entitled

is also the Honorary President of the International Association of Bookkeepers, and, when in parliaments, ask most of his questions about “Finance”, and “Mortgage Endowment Policies”.

Wonderboy asks in his email: “Does Tiberius expect to be attending Satire’s funeral sometime soon?”

But, alas, Tiberius is too speechless to respond.

See also: Feed Your MP; From Gravy-Train To Bread-Line