Letter to Rt Hon Liam Byrne , Minister, Treasury
Dept. 29th November 2009.
We have been whistleblowing for 6 years re corrupt acts against us by
HM Revenue Valuation Office Agency. This agency despite showing much
maladministration is often fraudulently protected by regulators that
gives cause for the VOA to have “too much room for mischief!
Our early adherence to corrupt government complaints procedure made us unwitting victims of the political classes cover-up culture.
The VOA has brought much chaos to the nation over many years. MPs have called special meetings in order to stem the flow from its contemptuous disorder!
We like many others have found to our cost, that this agency is infamous at being inept; in fact many people agree that no one does incompetence, fraud and corruption better than the Revenue/VOA over past years.
This saga of severe Revenue/VOA fraudulence alongside Home Office, MOD etc and public sector corruption in general, has helped put the UK into a position of corruption comparable to a banana republic!
One of the supreme watchdogs re world government corruption showed that the UK is struggling to recover from last years all time low within the Corruption Perception Index. It also shows our fall from grace, as it declares: “The UK should be aspiring to a CPI score which puts it in the top ten- not struggling to make the top 20. It should demonstrate that its own house is in order before exhorting developing countries to improve their governance.”
Having taken the VOA to task for its corrupt acts against us, we then suffered the ombudsman’s fraudulent interventions on the VOAs behalf – we were punished! We continued our struggle against public sector corruption – only to find ourselves facing Revenue barristers and lawyers? Pure Orwellian put-down of government critics!
Many have disclosed VOA failings, where as a government body it is sloth-like, it fails to consult, fails to communicate properly, is ever ready to give out false information. Yet government and regulators protect these serious incompetents? VOA is claimed to have failed by as much as 4 years to do a valuation on time?
Cases of contemptuous bungling by the VOA are too numerous to mention in full. However, we mention a few; in 1992 the indolent VOAs failure to act on information provided by a business woman, had led her to being notified much later than she should have been in relation to her revised rates liability! Because of this VOA failure she was unable to meet her additional heavy costs and had to close her business.
She received compensation and costs and a VOA ‘get out of jail’ apology. The Chief Executive acknowledged that her case had been ‘badly handled?’ There has always been a lack of urgency within the VOA that prevents it from learning from its mistakes; it relies too much on regulators getting them ‘off the hook’! This causes the public much strife!
Much pressure is put upon VOA victims to force the numerous agency errors and bungling out in the open – life is made very difficult for VOA victims chasing up so much maladministration. It has gone on for years; “Lessons are not learnt”!
Such entrenched VOA failure to deliver an efficient service continued, and some 15 years after 1992 the same type of maladministration was being dished up within housing estates and the Ports Businesses fiasco etc. One would be entitled to expect a ‘learning curve’ as the rightful outcome from the VOAs continuing abysmal errors.
The public sees little or no VOA professional accountability that might stop the errors, and the consequential painful lies, deceit and bungling.
The following 4 cases show concern as to the sloth-like lack of honest endeavour by the VOA, there is no indication it has learned anything from the 1992 case!
(1)In 2001/2003 the VOA made a complete mess of council tax bands at the Pennine View and Pennine View Close estate, Carlisle. This gave much angst to the victims of the Agency’s gross ineptitude. Of the 66 properties, 47 were in the wrong band? Inept VOA staff put similar adjacent properties in different bands?
When the distraught residents notified the VOA of the obvious errors and inconsistencies, the VOA originally ignored the submitted evidence, and subsequently failed to correct all the inconsistencies. The somewhat bludgeoned residents were put to further aggravation and had to contact the Chief Executive.
The residents of the estate - members of the electorate, were being bamboozled by public sector bunglers. Civil servants are not supposed to treat members of the public to continuous public sector buffoonery and maladministration!
However, after much abuse of their good governance and many headaches later, the residents finally saw the band of 38 properties reduced. Although this case showed enormous VOA incompetence, it was given full protection by the government’s cover-up machinery! The disgruntled residents were annoyed.
In this case, it was reliably claimed that the Adjudicator, Barbara Mills, known as a friend of public sector miscreants, disregarded the rule of natural justice, and denied the complainants the opportunity to comment on the seriously dysfunctional VOA excuses. It was claimed that the Adjudicator deliberately misrepresented the facts etc
These residents, having initially suffered from VOA ineptitude then found themselves facing a cover-up culture - instead of a proper professional council tax service!
The Adjudicator is a known protector of public sector error and worse, as DPP she once refused to proceed against guilty police officers accused of violence towards a man in custody. He later received £50,000 in damages. Lord Justice Rose said of Mills, that she had made a ‘flawed decision’! The police were guilty of criminal acts!
This gives an indication of Mill’s public sector cover-up mentality! In relation to this dysfunctional VOA Carlisle case, she was prepared to “Defend the Indefensible”.
(2) In Lowerstoft, Crestview Drive, this long running case involving the normal botch of VOA errors, put much strain on residents, it involved senior VOA officials, Valuation Tribunals, the MP, Ministers and Adjudicator etc. It appears that two years after the introduction of council tax, the VOA notified a number of residents that their Council Tax bands properties were incorrect and would be increased from band B to C.
A year later, with the ineptitude of the severely incompetent, the VOA informed some residents that their band C was now incorrect and would be increased to band D!
The innocent residents were later treated to more unwarranted chaos and angst, when they later discovered there were even more inconsistencies – identical bungalows within the estate were in different bands? More VOA maladministration?
It is quite startling that these out-of-touch VOA incompetents, with obviously little intelligence or integrity, little or no concern with public duty, should be allowed to make life difficult for members of the public.
(3) Eric Pickles MP has exposed how the VOA and the government deliberately covered up known errors in Council Tax bands. Fraudulent connivance in filching from the electorate is unjust - against the law! It is often claimed that the dysfunctional VOA purposefully neglected to correct errors.
Critics claim there are just too many errors for the inept VOA to put right. That VOA ignore proper procedure, this requires them to cover up their continuing maladministration by peddling lies, deceit and misrepresenting the facts. They conceal mistakes and disregard their statutory duty to maintain an honest Council Tax list.
As VOA victims, we found that the Ombudsman, who attempted to conceal VOA fraudulence and deceit, upheld the VOAs fraudulence. Such regulators in their protective mode disregard the rules of natural justice; this we feel can properly be viewed as a public sector crime!
Such ‘couldn’t give a damn’ abuse can be seen in the VOAs mishandling of the Ports Businesses fiasco – where enormous chaos was caused by the agency’s gross contempt for public service in relation to the nations ports.
(4) Many angry MPs gathered in Westminster Hall to debate ‘monstrous injustices’ by the VOA in relation to its Ports Businesses maladministration. They castigated the ineptitude of the VOA and its lack of know-how and business acumen – discussed how many port businesses were put in jeopardy because of VOA incompetence? How inept VOA staff were operating unchecked? A Minister admitted knowing nothing of what the VOA was doing.
MPs claimed a ‘lamentable litany of failure by the VOA’. There was much castigation! It was claimed VOA operations were akin to “Yes Minister” dogma!
Another MP spoke of the “ VOAs attitude being negligent in the extreme, every rule was breached and the VOA compounded the errors” The Minister was forced to admit that out of 1600 business rates assessments; the VOA got 600 wrong – one MP suggested that the whole 1600 might well be wrong!
When the Treasury disclosed that a lame-duck apology had been offered up by the VOA Executive, one MP with much needed brutal frankness indicated the VOA apology was: “In the league of mealy-mouthed statements that makes Pontious Pilates hand-washing an act of generosity and decency”. The Westminster Hall debate showed how after many years of being protected by dodgy regulators; the seriously dysfunctional VOA, bereft of honest endeavour, were now operating as loose cannons – putting in jeopardy thousands of jobs.
Being its victims we were pleased to see this agency being exposed for what it is, corrupt in its duty towards the public. We have suffered VOA injustice aided and abetted by the ombudsman who deliberately misrepresented facts in our case? Then, after some years I eventually faced Revenue barristers and lawyers? Our crime, we had dared to challenge RevenueVOA corrupt acts against us?
In the development of our nation's democracy we curbed the power of the King to raise taxes. Now hundreds of years later it appears the government is happy with what looks to be purposeful VOA chicanery against council taxpayers. Long live the King indeed!
It is claimed that more than a million households are paying more council tax than they need – one has to ask has this VOA deceit been part of a giant con trick against the electorate? Can the VOA be thought of as a sort of uncaring Orwellian unit working to deceive, or are they simply, as they appear to be - inept and out of their depth?
It is reported that the VOA now uses spiv-like practices that further contaminate our democracy; we now have VOA inspired ‘drive-by valuation’, where our premises are classified by photos taken as they drive past?
Two VOA officials, responsible for imposing the governments ‘patio tax’, have spent enormous sums of money travelling to exotic locations for new tax grabbing ideas? Do they really need to visit exotic locations to learn new monkey tricks – I think not? It would appear they are freeloading from another well-thought-out public sector gravy train? The depth of entrenched public sector deception is an indication of a corrupt parliament
During 2008 the VOA spent £5.4million on travel and subsistence? Just how many incompetents from this dysfunctional agency are milking the system?
So corrupt actions by the RevenueVOA and other departments, the cover-up by regulators, MPs expenses, dodgy Westminster and Whitehall fraud etc, all play their part in putting the UK in an embarrassing league position re world corruption.
As a proud veteran I feel the pain!
Yours as ever, a war pensioner corruptly handled by Revenue VOA
AW Tanner cc to Ministers Committees MPs Media & all interested in governmental corruption