New Treasury minister Jesse Norman deluged with loan charge delay requests

The new financial secretary to the Treasury is being inundated with requests to suspend, delay and independently review Loan Charge 2019.

Jesse Norman MP, who was appointed to the role on Thursday, was first appealed to on Friday to break with his predecessor Mel Stride, by LCAG in a ContractorUK exclusive.

Steve Packham of LCAG, who sounded the appeal, believes Mr Stride was “unfit” to be a Treasury minister as he ignored his fellow MPs, most of whom want the charge delayed and reviewed.   

'Integrity'

But since Mr Packham spoke out -- asking Mr Norman to bring “desperately needed integrity” to HMT, others have appealed to the MP, an ex-Barclays director, to do the same.

“We congratulate Jesse Norman on becoming…financial secretary to the Treasury,” said the Loan Charge APPG, reaching out to the new Treasury minister on Twitter.

“We urge you to listen to the majority of MPs including Conservatives and change course on the loan charge and announce an immediate suspension and an independent review.”

'Certainty'

Keith Gordon QC, who has found 20 errors in a HMRC loan charge factsheet, also reached out to Mr Norman, whose latest book, ‘The Father of Economics...’ was released in September.

“As a fan of Adam Smith,” Tweeted the barrister, “you'll appreciate the need for certainty within the tax system.

“You have inherited responsibility for the loan charge which is opposed by 200+ MPs and also the House of Lords.”

One of those MPs, Labour’s Ruth Cadbury, said on Friday: “It's clear that the loan charge is opposed across all political parties in the Commons.

“I hope that in addition to delaying the loan charge, and doing an independent review, they also listen to the thousands and thousands of victims caught up -- they've already suffered enough.”

The MP, a joint-vice chair of the APPG, was referring not to Mr Norman, but to whoever replaces Theresa May as prime minister, following her vow on Friday to quit on June 7th 2019.

'Right and proper'

But the enquired-about victims were cited by another Labour MP, Anna Turley, in one of the final questions Mr Stride was asked to answer in his role as financial secretary to the Treasury.

Ms Turley asked in the Commons: “Why do they [the government] pursue constituents like mine, many of whom were obliged to undertake these tax changes in order to get work?”

In a stock-response that Mr Stride became notorious for giving during his time at the Treasury, the-then financial secretary said: “We are simply making sure that the tax that was always due is paid, and that is right and proper.”

Mr Stride also said: “As I have set out, we are taking a front-footed approach to clamping down on promoters, and that has included six recent arrests for potential criminal activities.”

'Really sad'

Critics of Mr Stride will spot a change in his wording, given that the six arrests were for suspicion of fraud and so do not constitute action against scheme promoters, as the minister had previously implied.

Meanwhile his successor, Mr Norman, said on Friday that he was “really sad” to be leaving the transport department, but also “delighted” to have been appointed a Treasury minister.

The Loan Charge APPG reflected: “The first thing [he] must…do is to halt the pernicious loan charge which destroys it [tax certainty], allows HMRC to persecute people for legally unproven retrospective tax and undermines the rule of law.”

At LCAG, Mr Packham said: “Mel Stride has shown himself unfit to be a minister and we can only hope that he is replaced in the coming weeks by a minister with integrity and one who will actually listen.”

'Cynical'

Addressing and thanking the 11 MPs who posed loan charge-related questions to the minister last week, the group added in an open letter: “We hope that you will now lobby Jesse Norman, Mel Stride’s replacement in the Treasury and urge him to end the cynical campaign of misinformation over the loan charge, which is bringing the Treasury and HMRC into disrepute.

“We hope that knowing that it is the clear will of the House of Commons, Mr Norman will do what his predecessor has stubbornly failed to do and to listen to MPs and the evidence about the loan charge and announce a suspension and a much-needed independent review.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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