Andrea Leadsom MP on Loan Charge 2019 – radio interview transcript

As part of an interview series with the Tory leadership candidates vying to succeed Theresa May, LBC’s the Iain Dale Show invited on the newest candidate Andrea Leadsom MP, the former leader of the House of Commons, as a guest to answer callers’ questions -- live on the air. Most of the questions were on her likely Brexit policy, until:

Caller Gayle (‘G’), from Bristol: “When will you put an immediate stop to the loan charge and review it?

“I’m the daughter of a loan charge suicide victim, and it’s still going on -- the treatment of these contractors is disgusting. How many more people do we have to lose?”

Guest Andrea Leadsom (‘AL’): “I’m so sorry really, that is absolutely terrible to hear; very genuinely.

“The issue around the Loan Charge is one of whether in fact people who had particular working arrangements were potentially sometimes encouraged through mis-selling to present their employment as along the lines of a loan to themselves”…[gets interrupted]

Host Iain Dale (‘ID’): “It wasn’t mis-selling was it? These schemes were approved by the HMRC? The HMRC was using them themselves.”

AL: “Well, the HMRC argues that these loans were never approved by HMRC and that in fact it was always clear that these schemes were not acceptable. And I do think there is a very legitimate investigation that needs to be had. But I’m so sorry to hear about your situation Gayle; I really am.”

ID: “Can you not commit to agreeing that retrospective claiming of back-tax over 20 years is not acceptable. The convention has always been a maximum of six years and that would actually prevent people, like Gayle’s father, from getting into the psychological state that they clearly have got into.”

AL: “Yeah, so I would absolutely accept that retrospective taxation is not the right thing to do. However, I think the reason why I say there needs to be an investigation of this is because there is a  very legitimate argument about whether that retrospective taxation was something that people should have been and could have been aware of, at the time of undertaking these particular working arrangements or whether it wasn’t.

“I’ve always been clear right from when I was on the Treasury Select Committee as a backbencher back in 2010 that we cannot have retrospective taxation. People do need certainty in their business affairs. But at the same time, it’s vital that people do pay their fair share of tax. So I would certainly commit to properly investigating the situation.”

ID: “We can’t have another review; we’ve already had a review.”

AL: “There has been a limited review – that’s true, and I have actually looked into the Loan Charge on behalf of particular constituents of mine, and HMRC have come back with very; I think, very reasonable comments that they’ve made about the particular circumstances.

ID: “But people are dying because of this.”

AL: “HMRC have always said that nobody should be put into a position where they are mentally unwell”…[gets interrupted]

ID: “But they’re putting people into the position; that’s the problem.”

AL: “HMRC have very been clear that people should call them; should speak to their advisers”…[Gayle scoffs]

AL: “And should deal with them directly.”

ID: “Gayle you come back.”

AL: “Please do Gayle.”

G: “Right; do you know what? I have two issues. First of all, my dad was a very honest man. He declared everything to HMRC. I have a paper-trail going back years and years; his whole career. He told them.

“Secondly, the amount of time he had to wait was…[trails off] and that we’re now waiting. We’re no further along; we’re months and months down the line. We are no further along.

“He submitted on the deadlines. He was trying to work with them [HMRC] because he believed what they said –‘you’ve done wrong.’ And he met the deadlines and he was met with, ‘It’ll be a few months.’ And from that, his mental [trails off], and he could… [trails off] and he wrote, but he could not take it anymore. He couldn’t take it -- the waiting. I am now waiting; my family are now waiting.

“I wake up every day [voice breaks] thinking about the loan charge. I think about my dad. And immediately I think about the loan charge. No one seems to be listening. They say ‘Yeah we’ll look into it; we’re gonna’ review it.’ Why don’t…[trails off]. Speak to people who are living through it. I’ve read my Dad’s words. But…[trails off] what it did to him -- it ruined an indestructible man. It robbed him.”  

ID: “Well Gayle, it’s horrible to listen to what’s happened to you and your family.”

AL: “Yes it really is. I’m so sorry.”

ID: “Very quick final comment from you Andrea.”

AL: “That sounds like something’s gone terribly wrong there Gayle. And I mean the one thing I really would urge you to do is to perhaps think about contacting your Member of Parliament who will be able to get people to speak to you. It sounds to me like you… [trails off] it does sound like something’s gone”…[gets interrupted]

ID: “But that won’t bring her Dad back will it?”

AL: “No of course it won’t. That is an absolute tragedy. I’m so very genuinely sorry to hear that. And certainly, as I say, I do think it needs to be reviewed; it does need to be fair to all of those who are faced with this real challenge. And of course there will be some cases that have just gone wrong, and I’m so very very sorry Gayle.”

ID: “Gayle thank you for having the bravery to phone in because that can’t have been easy.”

AL: “Yes thank you.”

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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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