Loan Charge Action Group & Independent Health Professionals Association  

 

The Loan Charge Action Group has backed calls for the Prime Minister to personally intervene and delay the Loan Charge and suspend all settlements, following the tragic news of another person pushed to suicide. This brings the number of suicides linked to the Loan Charge to three.     

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Loan Charge has written an urgent open letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, imploring her to personally intervene to delay the introduction of this draconian legislation.
Following the tragic news of another suicide and the reported risk amongst those facing the Loan Charge the Prime Minister must act NOW to avoid any further tragedy!

The Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG) welcomes the APPG letter and calls upon the Prime Minister to listen, act and save lives. The call for the Prime Minister to intervene has also been backed by the Independent Health Professionals Association, who represent locum doctors and nurses, some of whom are facing the Loan Charge.

On 27th February, a group of five people from families facing the Loan Charge, including two children whose parents are facing ruin, went to 10 Downing Street to hand in letters on behalf of all the families affected. They are yet to receive a reply from the Prime Minister. Family members of a person who committed suicide due to the Loan Charge also gave harrowing evidence to the APPG on the same day.

Thousands of contract and freelance workers face bankruptcy, anxiety and stress due to the Loan Charge, which breaks normal legal convention and allows HMRC to impose  a retrospective 20year tax grab for arrangements that were legal and declared to them at the time.
The amounts involved are life-changing with most unable to pay, while also being deprived of their statutory rights to appeal, thousands are expected to go bankrupt with many expected to have to sell their homes.

From LCAG survey figures, a huge 68% of those facing the Loan Charge admitted to suffering from depression and anxiety. A shocking 39% – well over a third of all affected – reported suicidal thoughts and a risk of self-harm.

The Treasury and HMRC have been aware of the suicide risk from the Loan Charge for some time but they have ignored it; instead resorting to misleading and inflammatory propaganda to seek to justify the retrospective tax and cover up HMRC’s own failings.  The suicide risk has been raised in the House of Commons by Peter Bone MP, Ann Main MP and Ruth Cadbury MP. Ruth Cadbury raised the recent testimony to the Loan Charge APPG during a House of Commons debate to the responsible minster, Mel Stride, on Monday, who astonishingly simply ignored it.

In July 2018, in the House of Commons, Stephen Lloyd MP called on Mel Stride MP to set up a helpline, but again Mr Stride simply ignored the question.  The Loan Charge Action Group  wrote to HMRC and the Treasury urging them to set up such a helpline, but both have refused to do so, despite being aware of the suicide risk posed by their policy. This shameful behaviour has been criticised by MPs and by the Independent Health Professionals Association.  There are serious question marks about the duty of care of both the Treasury and HMRC now it is known that they ignored warnings and people have actually taken their own lives.

Following the refusal to set up a helpline, the Loan Charge Action Group has set up a special SMS and call back service to help people experiencing suicidal thoughts. This service is now seeing daily activity, with a marked increase as the deadline of the Loan Charge approaches.

For anyone who is concerned about the Loan Charge and its impact on them and would like to speak to someone from LCAG, then they need to text ‘LCAG HELP’ to 81025. Someone will call them back promptly during the daytime; for people who text at night, someone will call the following day.

It has emerged that neither the Treasury nor HMRC did a proper impact assessment, failing to uncover the impact the Loan Charge will have on those affected. This includes failing to estimate how many families are likely to experience breakdown and how many people are likely to go bankrupt as a result.[1] [2]

Steve Packham, Spokesperson for LCAG said:

“It is absolutely tragic that another person facing the Loan Charge has taken their own life. We have been warning the Government and HMRC about the serious risk to people, yet they have callously ignored this. They have instead sought to dehumanise individuals and, in the case of Ministers, actually make people feel like criminals which has made matters even worse. The Government and HMRC should hang their heads in shame.

“Due to the Treasury and HMRC’s refusal to set up a proper helpline for desperate people,  we set up a volunteer triage service to give people somewhere to turn to. We are now facing texts and calls on a daily basis as the date for the introduction of the Loan Charge comes in.

“We are extremely grateful to the All-Party Parliamentary Loan Charge Group for acting and for calling on the Prime Minister to intervene. She, the Government and HMRC now know and can no longer ignore the fact that people have killed themselves as a result of their policy and actions. We need a delay announcing immediately, before any more lives are lost”.

Dr Iain Campbell, Secretary General of IHPA added:

“The Independent Health Professionals Association are appalled to hear that another person has tragically taken their own life facing the Loan Charge. Ministers and HMRC have been warned again and again about the risk from their invidious policy, yet they have disgracefully ignored this. These tragic deaths are predictable and preventable, yet the Treasury have just ploughed on regardless.

“The Loan Charge is a mental health timebomb which Ministers simply cannot responsibly ignore any longer. So IHPA back the calls for the Prime Minister to urgently step in and act, which is the only responsible thing to do with the damage the Loan Charge is clearly going to inflict on many people’s health and wellbeing”.

Notes to Editors

Media Contact: Mark Sebright – marks@imagenuk.com / 07988 680796

  1. About the Loan Charge Action Group: The Loan Charge Action Group seeks to raise awareness and reform of the retrospective Loan Charge introduced by HM Treasury in the 2017 Budget and to build a community where affected individuals can find information and support. The Group does not provide any form of chargeable service or professional advice. Visit hmrcloancharge.info

 

  1. LCAG members’ survey: In summer 2018, LCAG surveyed 500 of its members about the impact of the Loan Charge and the following were the responses as to how it is affecting people:

 

Depression / Anxiety / Mental health impact:                      68%

Bankruptcy:                                                                           71%

Loss of residence / home:                                                     49%

Divorce / Relationship breakdown:                                       31%

Loss of career:                                                                       30%

Suicidal thoughts / self-harm:                                               39%

 

  1. The Independent Health Professionals Association is a Trade Association representing thousands of independent health care professionals, including locum doctors and nurses working in the NHS. See https://ihpa.org.uk/ .

 

  1. The All-Party Parliamentary Loan Charge Group (Loan Charge APPG) is in the middle of an inquiry into the Loan Charge to report in mid-March, see http://www.loanchargeappg.co.uk/appg-inquiry/.
  2. House of Commons Early Day Motion 1239: That this House expresses its concern at the 2019 Loan Charge; notes that it is retrospective applying back to 1999; further notes that as a result of the introduction of IR35, umbrella companies were set up and recommended by professional advisers and employment agencies; recognises that the Charge will affect contractors, freelancers and agency workers, including social workers, supply teachers and bank and locum nurses and doctors; notes that employment was not an option and in some cases the company or organisation insisted on those arrangements, including to avoid paying National Insurance; notes that these individuals did not receive sick or holiday pay; believes it is unfair that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are pursuing people who acted in good faith rather than the client organisations, agencies or umbrella companies all of whom benefited significantly; notes that HMRC are aggressively pursuing individuals through Advanced Payment Notices with no independent right of appeal; further believes that the Charge is likely to cause financial distress and bankruptcies, impeding HMRC’s ability to recover these tax liabilities and causing a devastating impact on people; believes that retrospectively taxing something that was technically allowed at the time, is unfair; calls on the Government to revise the legislation to avoid significant damage to independent contractors and freelancers in the UK; and calls for the Charge to apply only to disguised remuneration loans entered into after the Finance Act 2017 received Royal Assent.

For full register of MPs supporting Parliamentary motion see https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1239

  1. Suicide risk – HMRC and HMT are aware of the suicide risk being created by the Loan Charge (as reported in the Evening Standard https://www.standard.co.uk/business/suicide-watch-the-preventable-tax-timebomb-looming-for-freelancers-a3861916.html, yet so far have refused to set up a 24 hour helpline for people needing urgent counselling, see https://www.hmrcloancharge.info/news/hmrc_please_be_suicidal_during_office_hours/ .

[1] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/511476/response/1235076/attach/html/2/FOI2018%2001856%20Webber.pdf.html

[2] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/488001/response/1204199/attach/html/2/IR%201477.pdf.html