Friday, 31 January 2014

Hope not Hate and the £70k VAT fraud

As promised yesterday on our Facebook page, news reaches us that senior Hope not Hate staff face having their collars felt as research indicates they misused the VAT exemption certificate for their charitable arm - Hope not Hate Educational Ltd - to evade VAT on services relating to their anti-UKIP political campaigning.

An in-depth report by former UKIP staffer Mark Croucher - available in full on his own blog - suggests that campaigning work carried out in the 2010 General Election by political strategy company Blue State Digital was invoiced without VAT being included. On publicly available invoices this amounts to a little over £12,000 they fraudulently evaded, but as Blue State Digital still work for Hope not Hate, this could amount to a total of over £ 70,000 over the past 4 years. In this time, Hope not Hate have received over £150,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government towards their charitable aims.

The question must now be what will Hope not Hate's financial backers think of such tax avoidance? The Daily Mirror wrote 3 months ago that

"Tax avoidance is now running at £35billion a year – £3billion more than when Labour was in power....Because think how many nurses, police officers and teachers could be employed with that £35billion. Think how many vital services could have been saved from the cuts and how many jobs protected."

Nick Lowles - owner of Hope not Hate
who sanctioned VAT fraud
While trade union UNISON wrote

"UNISON supports the introduction of a general anti-avoidance principle in the tax code that would allow for HMRC to take action against any tax avoidance and placing an obligation on individuals and corporations operating within the UK to pay their fair share of taxes"
UNITE has had plenty to say about tax evasion, but as a tax evader itself, it will probably applaud Hope not Hate's fraudulent use of their exemption certificate.

Quite what other unions with a more traditional bent will think remains to be seen: PCS, CWU, GMB, NUT, TUC, AMICUS and the FBU remains to be seen.

Ruth Smeeth - Hope not Hate
Educational Ltd's general
secretary: did she know of
VAT fraud?
We understand that the matter has been reported to the Charity Commission - who censured HnH a decade ago for mixing its political activities with its charitable ones - HM Customs & Excise, the police, and the Electoral Commission as their 2010 return was fraudulent and not a true reflection of their financial affairs. It can only be a matter of time before Nick Lowles and Ruth Smeeth have their collars felt.

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