I was just heading to bed when I noticed this story in the Telegraph.
It appears that, at this time when the country is desperate for cash, when everything is being cut, people are losing jobs and sick and old people are being denied services they paid for and expected, the Revenue (Her Majesty's), which we thought to be rather inefficient and disorganised, disenchanting and disillusioned, in fact a bit lame, is actually crashingly dishonest. It has been doing deals with large companies, which have seen them excused from paying billions in tax.
Last year, millions of us were sent notices demanding tax which, entirely by the fault of the Revenue, had not been collected in previous years; some others were lucky enough to receive rebates, because the HMRC had been taking money from them when it shouldn't have been.
I had personally phoned and phoned to get something done about my tax, and every time I spoke to a different person in a call centre promised that action would be taken. It never was, of course. In the end I gave up because there are only so many years in my life and I'm not going to spend them in fruitless, expensive, frustrating calls to HMRC.
So now Margaret Hodge, no less, has said that there is £25 billion of tax outstanding from the biggest companies. £25 billion!!! That's almost the Scottish Government's budget.
Hodge is concerned, rightly, that big companies are treated more favourably than ordinary tax payers. In Britain? The bastion of fairness, of justice and equality? No, surely not?
Well yes, and what is even more disgusting is that HMCR won't tell the Commons Accounts Committee before which they were summoned, who owes what. Companies involved include Vodafone and ...wait for it, Goldman Sachs. Surely the byword for all that is evil in business.
So this government committee had to depend on the testimony of a whistle blower for the estimate.
I won't précis the whole story, this post is linked to the article in the Telegraph. But I will say that there's a pattern emerging here. In the last few years we have been told (and seen for ourselves) that the Home Office in London is completely out of control and "not fit for purpose". Actually it's not fit for anything. Remember this "great department of state" while responsible for immigration, was actually employing illegal immigrants... Yep!
The Ministry of Defence's attitude to purchasing equipment reminds me of my attitude to buying crisps. It spends billions like I would spend 50p on a packet of of pickled onion only to discover that they were bouffing and dump them. An organisation that was buying light bulbs at £22, when any fool can get the same ones for 65p in the 99p shop, is hardly one that you would want to trust with the life of your brother or son out there at the sharp end.
The Revenue (which is due to be taking over the payment of some benefits from 2013) seems to have joined the band of London government departments which couldn't run a booze up in a distillery.
Serious suggestion to Osborne. Get it sorted tout de suite matey. Tell these cheats and thieves that we want our money and we want it now before you are downgraded to "junk", which is what you are.
No wonder they didn't want the EU rules and regulations in the affairs of London. It is as bent and corrupt as anywhere in the world.
Something rotten in the state of England, I fear.
(* Click on cartoon to enlarge.)
(I'll apologise in advance for any mistakes. This was a rushed job! I'll correct it tomorrow.)