Saturday, 17 September 2011

Here’s What Councillors Spend Their Time Doing…

…and you thought it was ‘representing their constituents’, didn’t you?
A councillor is furious about his colleagues’ “miserable and mean-spirited” response when he asked them to consider making a charity donation.
What, he rattled a tin under their noses and they didn’t take their hands out of our pockets long enough to stick them in their own?

Well, not quite:
Colin Olivier asked for a £300 allowance he is entitled to claim as a Brightlingsea town councillor to be sent instead to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal for drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.
OK, and…?
To ensure his donation was not taxed, Mr Olivier asked the council to make the cheque out directly to charity.
Fellow councillors refused to allow this, even though it was not against any rules.
“The other councillors suggested I could draw the money and then pay it on to the charity, but that way the charity would lose 40 per cent in tax. I was actually being hard-headed by making the suggestion.
I think they are a miserable, mean-spirited bunch of people, telling me what I should do with my allowance.”
Well, let’s be fair here – they aren’t doing that, are they? They are just saying that if you want to pay it yourself, that’s fine, but it isn’t fine to have the council cut out the middleman.

After all, if you’re that fussed about the ‘missing’ 40%, you could always make it up out of your own money, couldn’t you?

After the vote Mr Oliver said he had decided not to claim his allowance in protest at the decision.

Oh. Right. So this vitally-important cause you’ve chosen isn’t getting any money now, while you pout like a sulky toddler in the local newspaper?
Graham Steady, one of those who voted against sending the cheque directly, said: “Sending taxpayers’ money to an overseas appeal could be misconstrued.
“The feeling was if he wanted to make a donation, he should have done so as an individual.
“I did ask whether he would be prepared to give the money to a local cause, but he declined.
“If he thinks his cause is so good, why doesn’t he bite the bullet and take the money?
Not taking any at all is cutting off his nose to spite his face.”
Well, quite! I get the feeling there isn’t a lot of love lost between Mr Olivier and the rest…
However, mayor Janet Russell said she sympathised with Mr Olivier.
She added: “Unfortunately, councillors felt if he wanted to donate the money to charity, he should accept his allowance and give what was left after tax, which was very much less.
‘Very much less’..? No, actually, and he could always have made that up himself. Or you could have made a donation to cover it, if you felt it was unfair, couldn’t you?
“I felt it was wrong, and I voted with Colin, but we had to accept the majority decision.
What he wanted was perfectly legal and, in my opinion, the other councillors should just have agreed for us to send the cheque.”
Are you unaware we live in a representative democracy, love? They outnumber you, so sad, too bad.

And don’t you have any pressing council business to attend to? Is this what you do all day, grandstand over charity donations coming out of taxpayer’s money and run to the local press?

No wonder we’re in such a mess!


Stick your collecting tin where... said...

I wanted to say public money, screwed form the citizen, is not there to be handed out to charities who make a good living out donations (after expenses and salaries, I believe some goes to deserving causes) but then i got thinking.

Our guvmint hands out tons of our money to third world shitholes so pompous little dictators and their masturbating ferrets can buy luxuries, arm their shabby armies with Chinese weapons or even encourage terrorists to get a feel for high explosives.

Charity begins at home? Hmmm...

Lord T said...

So he thinks taxes are too high or only taxes on his pet causes?

He should start up a petition.

Roue le Jour said...

I don't think the Revenue would allow that anyway. I think they would still come after him for the tax if they were aware of what happened. Anybody know?

MTG said...

These are the very folk in whom we place our trust for developing National standards of puerility.

I am loath to think any Town Council is incapable of establishing simple rules for members to take turns in making stupid gestures.

Ed P said...

Surely Gift Aid would restore the full amount to the charity, as it entitles them to reclaim tax paid on earned income?
(Whether this allowance is "earned income" is a different issue.)
I'm more concerned that this ignorant sub-humanoid of a councillor is thought to be competent to "represent" us.

Anonymous said...

Posturing Prat of a Councillor.

As far as I know there's not an Emergency Committee for arming the natives in the Horn of Africa and yet somehow they manage to get enough dollars together for guns and ammunition...

David Gillies said...

q.v. my comment on "green-fingered"* Goss, supra

* yeah, as in the colour of money. Other people's money.

Longrider said...

So what happened to deed of covenant whereby the charity claims the tax back?

The King of Wrong said...

"Perfectly legal", yeah, right. Asking the employer to do something to avoid paying tax is, uh, prima facie tax evasion.

You know what? I'd like my employer to pay my rent directly, to avoid the tax I'd have to pay if I drew it as salary. And my utilities bills, and my bar tab.

If this idiot had made the request of me, I'd not only have refused, I'd have reported it as suspicious activity: bribery and money laundering regulations are extremely strict these days.

Ian B said...

Lefties: everyone else should pay tax, but not us.

English Viking said...

For goodness sake, don't give these muppets any more money, especially any of mine, it only encourages them.

Twenty_Rothmans said...

MTG said
"These are the very folk in whom we place our trust for developing National standards of puerility."

In the case of Colin Oliver, a case for senility could be made.

The sepulchral Mr Oliver reminds me of old women feeding pigeons. You'd like to remonstrate with them, but feel held back.

As SYCTW so eloquently points out, there might be a few old people who'd be glad of whatever's left over if he collects it, rather than sending it to bongo-bongo land.

Simon Cooke said...

..and the poor dear has never heard of Gift Aid either! Or covenanting if he wants to donate every year! Donantions to charity are easy to make tax free.

John Pickworth said...

I'm absolutely blooming livid... its a good job he's not my councillor! I usually take a lot of the posts here rather light-heartedly but I'd got steam coming out my ears before getting half way though this one.

Firstly, I'd presume from the 40% tax issue that Councillor Colin Olivier (Labour) is a higher earner or judging from his photo more likely in receipt of a damn good pension.

That he seems able to either not claim or gift away his allowance appears to confirm he doesn't need it. For me, its quite besides the point whether he's entitled to it or not. Its simple; either claim it or leave it in the kitty. WE give YOU these allowances - if you don't want it then fine, WE'LL decide where it goes. The councillors are the stewards of the ratepayer's money and its not for them to dole out unwanted cash to others even if it is for a good cause. I wonder if Olivier has even considered if the people he represents wish to make this donation?

The fact that he then attempts a slight of hand to dodge the tax man really does call into question his ethical judgement and his fitness to hold elected office?

I'm with his colleagues on this one.

I'd like to see the practise of giving taxpayer's money to charity made completely illegal. Personally I make a point of NEVER giving to any charity that also accepts Government money.

JuliaM said...

"Charity begins at home?"

I've always believed so...

"I don't think the Revenue would allow that anyway."

Let's hope not!

"Lefties: everyone else should pay tax, but not us."

Spot on!

"Donantions to charity are easy to make tax free."

If you make them privately, yes. Rather odd why he doesn't seem to want to, then?

KenS said...

"Donantions to charity are easy to make tax free."

If you make them privately, yes. Rather odd why he doesn't seem to want to, then?

No publicity that way?

ericp said...

In response to Roue le Jour, yes the HMRC permit this it's called 'Payroll giving' and allows relief at the highest (40%) rate as opposed to 'Gift aid' mentioned by other posters which is only at the basic rate 20%. Given the councilors comments about 'local charities' clearly they are using this method, so I guess the issue actually comes down to whether it is within the remit of the council to veto members choice of charity when using 'PAyroll giving'; unlike JuliaM I suspect it is not.