Senior Tories lay into Loan Charge and call for its scrapping

David Davis
David Davis
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Senior Conservatives and former Tories have lined up to call on the Treasury to end the Loan Charge amid an independent review into the policy.

Tory Peter Bone (Wellingborough) said the Loan Charge was the "worst form of retrospective taxation", warning it was "causing real hardship and distress to law-abiding taxpayers".

Speaking at Commons Treasury questions, he said: "This week it was reported that a seventh person has taken their own life because of the Loan Charge. Minister, how many more people are going to take their lives before you scrap the Loan Charge?"

Read more: Loan Charge is having terrible impact on tens of thousands of people
Responding, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said the Government had "listened to concerns expressed across the House about the Loan Charge" and an independent review was in progress under the leadership of Sir Amyas Morse.

He said: "While it is under way, it is right that the Loan Charge should remain in force so that the Government implements legislation that this House agreed on.

"The review will conclude by mid-November in order to let anyone who may be affected know and to give people time to plan in advance for the January self-assessment filing deadline.

Westminster

Westminster

"To help taxpayers who may have longer to pay, HMRC have confirmed again that there is no maximum time limit for payment plans."

He added: "We have had notice of three suicides that may have some connection with the Loan Charge which have been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

"And in one case there's been a referral back to HMRC but in all other cases there's been no further developments, so I do not recognise the picture that he describes... there is also the question of collecting the several billion pounds of back tax that is due."

Read more: Failure to suspend Loan Charge is contempt of natural justice
But his comments drew sharp criticisms from former Cabinet figures.

Jesse Norman

Jesse Norman

Tory David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) said: "The hard fact is that seven people who are facing challenge or investigation of the Loan Charge have taken their own lives."

He added: "Is the Government going to give up on the premise of using retrospective taxation in the future or does it fall to this House to pass laws that will stop them doing so in future?"

Independent Anne Milton (Guildford) said the minister "cannot stand at the despatch box and just ignore what he is hearing from the benches behind him".

Independent Justine Greening (Putney) branded the minister's response "unacceptable", adding: "He should suspend all the Loan Charge activity whilst the review is under way and until the Government has responded to it."

Read more: Call for Loan Charge review to be independent of HMRC
Independent Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) said the retrospective element "is deeply questionable".

Tory Matthew Offord (Hendon) also called on the Government to suspend all activity.

Mr Norman said: "It would be wrong to change the policy until the review has had a chance to make a decision on this."

Labour's Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) said the retrospective Loan Charge was causing "huge pain and upset as people are threatened with their livelihoods and homes".

He called on the Government to "either suspend the Loan Charge or at least tell HMRC that those who have signed a settlement agreement can at least pause the payment until the review is concluded".

Former work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd said her constituents had been in touch about the "tragic, sad stories about the destruction of families and of their finances" in relation to the Loan Charge.

She added: "While I welcome the court review that's taking place, can I urge the Chancellor to reconsider the position of not suspending it during that review."

Mr Norman replied: "The purpose of the review is to establish whether the Government is pursuing the right policy, it makes no sense at all to change that policy until we have heard from the review."