Dear Sir Ed, Ruth and Ross
I am writing to you today in response to the letter published yesterday by HMRC on their website [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/letter-from-sir-jonathan-thompson-to-the-loan-charge-all-party-parliamentary-group]
Finally it seems that HMRC are starting to comprehend the seriousness of the Loan Charge and the devastating consequences it is having on individuals and their families.
I have attached to this email the correspondence that we have previously had with HMRC on this subject and the responses we received from HMRC to our requests for a professional helpline to be set up to deal with the risk of suicide that we clearly identified nine months ago.
As you can see, our request was met with a shocking lack of compassion, with a reply by Julie Elsey that states those affected should ‘pay what they owe’.
I would also like to address the statement made by Mr Thompson that HMRC have asked us to supply details of Loan Charge related suicides. Firstly, no such request has been received by LCAG. Secondly, he would be fully aware that we would not be able to disclose this information without the explicit approval of the families concerned. If HMRC would like to write to us and make such a request we will of course do our best to comply.
I note with shock and incredulity that HMRC seem to be implying that LCAG are in someway increasing the risk of suicide by raising the issue. This is quite frankly preposterous. In actual fact we have been offering help and support to those in need for over six months now. Many of those who have called our helpline have paid testament to the fact that without this service things may have turned out very differently. Our helpline has dealt with over 80 calls during this time from people who simply have nowhere else to turn.
I would also like to raise with you another comment by Mr Thompson where he asks the APPG to provide information that they could potentially pass on to the IOPC. I suggest that you refer him to the article in the FT (13th March 2019) where the report states that a source within HMRC has advised that they already know of six Loan Charge related suicides. This suggests they already have sufficient information to put before the IOPC.
As you will be aware LCAG conducted their own survey, in June 2018, that looks into the impacts of the Loan Charge. This survey found that 39% of those polled were experiencing suicidal thoughts. I personally have read hundreds impact statements and suicidal thoughts are a distressing and recurring theme.
Finally, with reference to Mr Thompson’s last paragraph, the assertion that HMRC are offering any form of support to Loan Charge victims is absurd. Our experience is quite the opposite and paints a picture of an organisation bereft of compassion and humanity whose single purpose is to, and I quote, ‘Maximise Revenues’ (as stated on HMRC website as a high level mission statement).
If Mr Thompson truly believes he heads up a caring organisation that is there to help, then he is mistaken. With initiatives such as project ROAR, whose name I can only assume was used to engender an aggressive demeanour within the Revenue Teams involved, speaks volumes.
This sentence, ‘We are here to make it real for users, agents and promoters’, taken from a leaked internal HMRC document reinforces this point and goes further to expose the mindset of an organisation who seem to believe they are fighting a war against their own citizens.
This information shows that HMRC have some serious questions to answer in terms of their duty of care.