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Issue:- 11 April 2013

Island tax evaders told to come clean

TAX cheats who have been hiding investments and assets in the Isle of Man, Guernsey or Jersey to evade tax are being asked to pay the tax they owe before HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) clamps down on them.

Ground-breaking agreements will tackle offshore tax evasion using bank accounts and other structures in the Crown Dependencies.

The tax evaders have until 30 September 2016 to disclose hidden assets or investments and pay the tax, interest and any penalties due. At the end of this period, HMRC will automatically receive information from banks in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man identifying all account holders.

The disclosure facility allows people to voluntarily settle their tax affairs before HMRC starts to target fraudsters who refuse to comply.

Those who ignore the disclosure opportunity could face criminal prosecution, significantly higher penalties, and the risk of having their names published.

A package of measures designed for those hiding assets offshore was agreed between the UK and the governments of the Isle of Man in February 2013, and Guernsey and Jersey in March 2013.

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said:- "The net is closing in on those seeking to hide their money offshore to evade their tax responsibilities. While the majority of people and businesses pay what they owe, this Government is determined to tackle the minority of tax evaders who don't. The HMRC centre of excellence for tackling offshore tax evasion, which received additional funding in the Budget, is already bearing fruit. It is vital that everyone pays what they owe and that's why we have made nearly a billion pounds available to HMRC to create a level tax playing field."

HMRC's Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, Jennie Granger, said:- "HMRC is making sure that there is no safe haven for people who want to try and cheat the tax system by hiding their money overseas. These disclosure facilities give an opportunity for individuals with investments in the Isle of Man, Guernsey or Jersey to make a voluntary disclosure of any undeclared tax liabilities to HMRC before we challenge them. People with overseas assets or investments who have correctly declared income to HMRC and paid tax have nothing to fear. Those who haven't, and who do not make use of the disclosure facilities, face the prospect of a criminal investigation or a significant financial penalty, and the risk of having their name published, once the new information sharing agreement kicks in."

For more details of HMRC offshore disclosure facilities please visit:-

 Royal Liverpool University Hospital - Treasury Decision

THE Department of Health and Treasury have now approved the draft appointment business case for the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital.  Both Department of Health and the Treasury have assessed our draft appointment business case over the past few months.  The next step is for us to assess the final bids by our 2 bidders; Carillion and Horizon. We will then make a decision in the next few weeks on which 1 of these bidders will design and build our new hospital.

Aidan Kehoe, chief executive, said:- "I am delighted that we are now just weeks away from unveiling the design for our new hospital. The new Royal is at the very heart of our City and this is a significant step forward in the creation of our world-class hospital. It also brings us one step closer to the creation of the Liverpool BioCampus, which has the potential to transform the City, propelling us onto the world stage along with Boston and Singapore."

After the bidder is appointed, we will obtain final planning permission and sign contracts, with work on the hospital expected to begin early 2014. The new Royal will then open in 2017.

Web of rip-off landbanking companies torn apart by Insolvency Service

6 companies that scammed the public into investing in plots of agricultural land have been wound up by the High Court on public interest grounds, following an investigation by The Insolvency Service.

The companies falsely claimed to investors that they would obtain planning permission to dramatically increase the value of this land.

The 6 companies, all based in the North of England were:-

Green Crest Homes Ltd. in Halifax

Brand Trader (UK) Ltd. (formerly known as Green Crest Homes (UK) Ltd.) in Formby, Merseyside

Sutton Wells Ltd. in Horwich, Lancashire

Curved Ball Ltd. in Horwich, Lancashire

JCB Marketing Ltd. in Beverley, Yorkshire

NSS-Operations Ltd. in Horwich, Lancashire

The companies traded from premises at 70 High St, Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside, WA12 9SH. Collectively they operated a landbanking scheme selling small plots of land at a site which they described to investors as the 'Pennine View Project' in Liversedge, West Yorkshire.

Prospective investors were told that Green Crest Homes Ltd was seeking planning permission for residential development of the land and once they obtained this permission, the value of an average investment of £11,000 could increase by more than ten times, to as much as £120,000.

However, The Insolvency Service investigation found that the companies had made no application for planning permission to develop the land and, even if they had done, it was extremely unlikely that permission would have been granted.

At least 43 plots were sold to investors for around £11,000 each. Green Crest Homes Ltd. and Brand Trader (UK) Ltd. received the sale proceeds, while Sutton Wells Ltd., Curved Ball Ltd. and JCB Marketing Ltd. acted as marketing companies for Green Crest Homes Ltd.

Previously the three marketing companies had performed a similar role for another landbanking company CLS & Partners Ltd., which took almost £1 million from investors in exchange for plots of land at Ossett, Wakefield and was shut down in the public interest in May 2012, following an investigation by The Insolvency Service.

The Service's more recent investigation found that Curved Ball Ltd. had received funds from landbanking schemes run by CLS & Partners Ltd, as well as the Pennine View Project and several others. In total, Curved Ball Ltd. had received more than £1.8m from the landbanking schemes but all of these funds had been dissipated and the company had been dissolved on the application of its directors. No adequate records were produced to explain where the money had gone.

NSS-Operations Ltd provided administrative services to Green Crest Homes Ltd and CLS & Partners Ltd.

Commenting on the case the Investigation Supervisor with The Insolvency Service, Colin Cronin, said:- "These companies persuaded members of the public to invest thousands of pounds in plots of land that they falsely claimed that they were seeking planning permission for. The companies said this planning permission was highly likely to be obtained and would result in a significant increase in the value of the land. In reality, no steps had been taken to obtain planning permission and there was very little prospect of any being granted. The Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies and their directors when the public are deliberately misled in this manner. The advice to anyone who is approached to invest in land in this way is to take time to reflect, seek independent advice and research the company in question. If a scheme sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

HMRC offers new set of online tax guidance

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has launched a new raft of free online webinars giving tax help. The live webinars are led by HMRC staff and include time for participants to ask questions online. Some of the webinars are also available as pre-recorded versions that can be watched at any time of day. The latest webinars cover employer annual returns, business record-keeping and tax advice for childminders. Attendees can take part from their own home or office, or on the move using a smartphone or tablet. For more information and to book, visit the HMRC website  and for direct links to each webinar to register click on here. Employers have a deadline of 19 May 2013 to submit Annual Returns (P35 and P14s).

Island tax evaders told to come clean

MALE drivers are being urged to use their head and not lose it at the wheel, as a survey out today by Brake and Direct Line reveals almost 1 in 4 (24%) risk catastrophic head-on crashes by overtaking blind, while more than four in 10 (44%) admit speeding at 60mph+ on rural roads. Men are much more likely to take these deadly risks than women, and more than twice as likely to have been involved in an overtaking near-miss or incident.

The Brake and Direct Line survey of 1,000 UK drivers found:-

Almost 1 in 4 men (24%) and 1 in 6 women (18%) admitted overtaking when they couldn't be certain nothing was coming, in the past year.

1 in 5 men (20%) and one in 10 women (9%) have been involved in an overtaking near-miss or incident while driving in the past year.

More than half of all drivers (54%) have witnessed an overtaking near-miss or incident by another driver in the past year, with 1 in 5 (19%) experiencing a vehicle approaching on their side of the road.

Over half of women (52%) have been afraid when travelling as a passenger when their driver has overtaken another vehicle in the past year, compared to 44% of men.

More than four in 10 men (44%) have broken a 60mph limit on a rural road, compared to 1 in 4 women (24%) and men are twice as likely to do this monthly or more (20% compared to 9%).

In 2011 (latest statistics available), 6 in 10 UK road deaths were on rural roads; that's 1,197 people violently and tragically losing their lives.

4 in 10 serious injuries were on rural roads, meaning 9,952 people suffered serious and often long-lasting or permanent harm.

3 in 4 people (75%) killed on UK roads are male.

Brake and Direct Line are urging the minority of male and female drivers who take the deadly risks of overtaking blind or speeding on rural roads to recognise that driving safely protects you, the ones you love and people around you. Drivers are urged to make Brake's Pledge to show their commitment to keeping themselves and others safe.

Brake is also pressing for government and local authority action to lower speed limits on rural roads to 50mph or lower and implement measures to deter speeding and overtaking, especially on crash black-spots and road that pass through rural communities. Brake is highlighting that simple, often low-cost engineering measures can significantly reduce casualties. It is also calling for the government to get tough on rural road risk by funding wider traffic enforcement and running publiCity campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers involved in driving too fast and overtaking. Read about Brake's campaign on rural roads.

Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer at Brake, the road safety charity, said:- "Overtaking dangerously or driving too fast on rural roads puts yourself and others in grave danger, risking needless deaths and injuries. Some people kid themselves they can get away with excessive speeds and dangerous manoeuvres, because they know the road. Yet driving on rural roads is highly unpredictable, and the consequences of risk-taking often horrendous. Every mph faster you go, you reduce your chance of being able to react in an emergency. Overtaking is an especially risky manoeuvre, because it's impossible to be 100% sure you have enough free road ahead. That's why our advice is avoid overtaking unless essential, stay well within limits, and slow right down for bends, brows, in bad conditions and in communities. Hang back, slow down and chill out. Prioritising safety above arriving a few minutes faster could spare your family or someone else's a huge amount of heartache."

Simon Henrick, spokesperson at Direct Line Car Insurance, said:- "More than 3 people die on rural roads in the UK each and every day and many of these deaths could be prevented. Our own data suggests that young drivers and their passengers are even more likely to die on this type of road. Drivers should remember that patience is a virtue when it comes to deciding to overtake another vehicle, as it could be a life saver."

The facts

Many drivers mistakenly think rural roads are safer, because they are often quieter. In reality, they are shared by all types of road users and there are many hazards, such as tight bends, blind corners and brows, and narrow roads. This means drivers may have little time to react to hazards, and this is reduced considerably by driving faster. At 60mph, a driver's stopping distance is 73metres, about 3 tennis courts' length. The high speeds with which many people navigate these roads also mean that crashes are more likely to cause serious injuries or death than on slower roads. In fact, per mile travelled, rural roads are the most dangerous for all kinds of road user, and it's on these roads that the majority of road deaths occur.

Overtaking on single carriageways is incredibly dangerous, given that it involves driving on the wrong side of the road at speed. It is impossible for drivers to accurately judge the speed and distance of approaching traffic, and whether they have sufficient clear road to complete the manoeuvre. They also cannot be certain the vehicle they are overtaking will not speed up. Where overtaking is concerned, a small error of judgement can easily be fatal. The gap between you and oncoming traffic can disappear very fast. If you are driving at 60mph and the oncoming vehicle is also travelling at 60mph, the gap between you closes at 120mph, or about 60 metres a second.

There is clear evidence that in general male drivers take more risks, are hurt or killed more, and cause more deaths on roads than women. Some researchers argue it is down to biology, others say it's more about societal expectations placed on boys from a young age, rewarding riskier behaviour. Whatever the reasons, it is certain that risk-taking on roads leads to terrible consequences for many men and women every day. That's why Brake is urging everyone to make its Pledge to use roads safely.

Advice for drivers

Country roads often have speed limits that are far too high, dangerous sharp bends, and unexpected hazards. You never know when a cyclist, horse rider or jogger will be round the corner or over the next brow. When passing people on foot, bikes and horses, slow right down and give them plenty of space. Never risk overtaking on rural roads unless you are overtaking a very slow moving vehicle such as a tractor, the road is clear and straight, and you won't have to drive at excessive speeds or above the limit to do it. Otherwise, just hang back from the vehicle in front and enjoy the journey.

The consequences

Richard and Gill Clutterbuck, from Great Bowden, near Market Harborough, were riding their horses along a rural road, on a bright Tuesday morning in August 2010. They had stopped at the side of the road to allow a passing vehicle on the other side of the road to go by without scaring the horses.

Suddenly a sports vehicle overtook the car, passing onto the wrong side of the road and crashing head on into Richard and his horse.

Richard's horse went over the bonnet of the vehicle and was killed by the impact. Richard was thrown and broke vertebrae in his lower back and three ribs when he hit the road. Gill's horse collapsed on top of her, rupturing a ligament in Gill's knee.

Richard had to undergo surgery and it was feared he would be paralysed because of damage to his vertebrae. Surgeons managed to stabilise his back by injecting cement into the damaged bones before pinning them with titanium rods.

Richard said:- "It is sheer luck that I wasn't killed that day, and I put this down to the size of my horse Linford - who sadly lost his life - and the excellent work of medical professionals. It was an awful, terrifying experience that I would not wish on anyone, and it's taken me a long time to recover physically. It has had a terrible emotional impact on both me and my wife. It's vital that drivers understand that rural roads are shared roads, so they must drive cautiously, and never overtake unless it's absolutely essential and 100% safe. A lot of the time overtaking makes very little difference anyway - and it could have appalling consequences for you or another innocent person."


Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the 5 deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18 November to 24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

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