Steve Packham, Andrew Earnshaw and Richard Horsley
Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG)
Pottmanns Lane
TN39 5JL
Submitted by email
13th June 2018
Dear Mr Thompson,
URGENT – Suicide risk as a direct result of the 2019 Loan Charge Legislation.
I am writing to you on behalf of the Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG). We represent people and their families who are directly and indirectly impacted by the 2019 Loan Charge.
I need to make you aware, as a matter of some urgency, that we have members who are reporting suicidal thoughts and actual risk of suicide to us as a group.
Monday night we had one such report from a member who contacted us in distress and who was clearly of a suicidal mindset. He attributed this directly due to the realisation of what the 2019 Loan Charge will mean for him and his family.
Shockingly, this was the second such call in less than two weeks. We are becoming more and more deeply concerned about the effect this policy is having on people’s mental health and ultimately, on their daily lives.
It is currently falling to us, an action & victim support group, to deal with the devastating personal impact and potentially disastrous consequences of this invidious and ill-considered policy. However, whilst we have a role to play in bringing together all those who are facing such consequences, enabling them to share their experiences and not suffer in isolation, we are not professionally trained to deal with people at risk of, or threatening suicide, nor should we have to do so, when the 2019 Loan Charge is something that the Government are forcing upon us, and HMRC implementing, regardless of the mounting evidence of the severity of the consequences of doing so.
With the suicide risk being a direct result of your relentless pursuit of individuals, including our members, ​we hereby demand ​that you establish, ​as a matter of urgency, a 24 hour helpline that individuals may call if in severe mental distress or have suicidal thoughts​.
Our latest call Monday night came in at around 10:30-00 am and thankfully a volunteer counsellor amongst our group sprang into action to speak to this individual, providing a vital lifeline and quite possibly saving their life. A couple of weeks ago, we received a similarly distressed cry for help at 1:30 am and, only due to the quick thinking of our volunteers, several of us managed to triage this particular victim whose life could thankfully also be saved. Sadly, only God knows what happens to those that do not find us in time…
Although our role is to challenge the unfair basis of the 2019 Loan Charge and to seek to work with HMRC, HM Treasury and others to have a rethink so as to avoid the disastrous personal and irreversible consequences of this policy, it is not to deal with and assist those who are facing acute anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
This will not be the last time we will have to deal with a situation like this and we are not equipped or resourced to deal with the fallout from your policies.
In fact, LCAG has already been provided with the hospital records of one person who has recently attempted suicide directly as a result of the 2019 Loan Charge. Tax advisers tell us that they receive several calls every day from clients who have only just been made aware of the charge and its implications, some have lost count of how many have decided suicide is the only way out.
You need to be aware – and accept – that there are many, many people who are personally, grievously, horrifically affected by the 2019 Loan Charge, including those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and openly discussing ending their life as their only means of escape from it.
You (HMRC collectively and as Chief Executive and Director General, personally) cannot and must not ignore or deny this reality.​ You have now seen in the region of a hundred impact statements outlining what the 2019 Loan Charge will do to individuals and their families. Despite the quite clearly woefully inadequate (and potentially therefore negligent) HMRC impact assessment done, you now know that the 2019 Loan Charge will cause bankruptcies for many thousands, will cause relationship and family breakups, will cause mental health issues and, will, sadly, as you have now been informed, cause people to threaten to take their own lives.
So now HMRC must accept responsibility for their implementing this policy and the consequences of doing so. The ‘vulnerable customer policy’ is not sufficient nor will it prevent mental breakdown or suicides.
We now urge you to establish a 24 hour helpline to allow all those affected by the 2019 Loan Charge to access help when they need it, to prevent the tragedies that otherwise will sadly be likely to occur.
We look forward to your response as a matter of urgency.
Yours sincerely,
Richard Horsley, Steve Packham, Andrew Earnshaw,
Spokesman, Executive Director, Executive Director Acting on behalf of the Loan Charge Action Group (LCAG)