Osborne unveils the classic Tory way to collect unpaid taxes and fines. Ignore HMRC and DWP which are there precisely for this purpose, but suffer from a fatal disadvantage – they’re in the public sector. So strike a deal instead with a private US-owned company – creating a joint venture with TDX Group, a so-called ‘recovery management’ company whose parent company, Equifax, is based in the US. TDX will have a 75% stake in the new entity, Integrated Debt Services Ltd, with the government holding the other 25%. TDX will get a percentage of any unpaid debts collected beyond the level collected in the last year, though the Cabinet Office won’t reveal what the percentage commission is on grounds of commercial confidentiality, as though this wasn’t a service for the public sector!
So who is being targeted by this new expensive debt collection agency? It is aimed primarily at unpaid taxes, student loans and overpaid benefits and grants, which is where most of the small money is. Significantly nothing is said about going after the hyper-rich individuals who have deposited hundreds of millions of pounds in the 10 UK-controlled tax havens, which is where the serious money is. Nor is any serious attempt being made to block the billions of taxes avoided annually by the multinational companies who continue, uninterrupted, to make a nonsense of tax collection by pretending that their profits were made in the tax havens where they’re laughably registered and where next to no tax is levied.
The class bias in this whole exercise is blatant. The small-time offenders are pounced upon (and of course if they are liable and able to pay, they should pay) though the yield will be comparatively tiny, whilst the big fish where the serious avoidance and evasion takes place and where the yield would be huge are left completely off the hook. The same class-based prejudice has been displayed by this government in many other areas too. Benefit fraud and wilfully misleading canards about ‘shirkers’ and ‘scroungers’ is repeatedly peddled, yet tax fraud which is a hundred times more loss-making for the Exchequer is quietly ignored. The bedroom tax is applied to some of the poorest households on the grounds that they have more rooms than they need, yet the mansion tax applied to the rich for similar reasons is vilified as unfair. The deficit, caused by the Tory-supporting financial elite, is being tackled by this government by punishing exclusively the poorest two-thirds of the population who were in sense responsible whilst the richest 1% who were responsible escape with impunity with no specific taxes directed at the rich at all.