Liz Truss vows to look into ‘appalling’ reports of loan suicides

Ms Truss also criticized the “very bad” way in which the whole situation surrounding the controversial tax policy was handled.

The pledge was made at a ‘meet Liz’ meeting in Purley organized by Croydon Tories, when Ms Truss was asked if she would act before more people took their own lives while facing the costs of ready.

Earlier this year, Treasury Finance Secretary Lucy Frazer revealed that HMRC had referred nine cases to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in which a taxpayer had taken his own life after using a ‘disguised pay’ scheme “.

Library image by Liz Truss. Asked about reports of loan fee-related suicides, Ms Truss said: ‘It’s appalling to hear this and the way the whole situation has been handled has been very bad in my opinion.

In a letter seen by the Yorkshire Post, Ms Frazer said she was deeply saddened to hear of the cases and was working closely with HMRC to improve support for those in difficult circumstances.

Eight inquiries concluded there was no evidence of misconduct by any HMRC officer and an investigation is ongoing, Ms Frazer’s letter says.

In her comments at the meeting, Ms Truss also pledged to review ‘IR35’ wage legislation, which critics say has directly led to many contractors being mis-sold, now subject to the burden of ready.

At the Purley meeting, a local Tory member asked Ms Truss about borrowing charges: ‘This unfair law nullifies basic taxpayer protections and is utterly anti-Conservative. Will you commit to a truly independent review and resolve this problem before more people take their own lives?”

Liz Truss replied: “It’s appalling to hear that and the way the whole situation has been handled has been very bad in my opinion and we’ll see what we can do on that specific issue.”

Ms Truss said that, should she become Prime Minister, ‘we will also make sure as part of our tax review that we look at IR35 and the impact it has had because, again, people who are self-employed people do not get the same benefits as people who are on Pay As You Earn.

“So we should be doing what we can to help these people, but I’m definitely going to look at this and it’s very, very tragic, I think, that this has happened.”

The Loan Charge Action Group is calling on the next Prime Minister to commission an independent review uninfluenced by the Treasury and HMRC into loan charges and find a ‘fair resolution’ for all concerned.

Loan Charge Action Group spokesman Steve Packham said: “We are very pleased that Liz Truss has publicly committed to reviewing loan charges and we urge her to do so as soon as possible, should she win the conservative leadership contests and becomes prime minister.

“It is time for a proper independent review of the whole and, more importantly, a just resolution to end the nightmare of thousands of families.

‘We urge Tory MPs to support the Loan Charge Pledge and call on the next Prime Minister to look into and resolve the Loan Charge scandal before more lives are lost’

A government spokesman declined to comment in response to Ms Truss’ comments about borrowing fees.

Last month Baroness Kramer, deputy chair of the all-party Parliamentary Group on Loan Fees and Taxpayer Fairness, said: ‘The next Prime Minister and Chancellor must stop ignoring the fee scandal loan, a manifest injustice that has tragically led to suicides.

“The current situation is that many people simply cannot pay the claims that HMRC makes to them and without a fair resolution, such as that offered by tax professionals and supported by the APPG, there is a risk may other lives be ruined.”

The borrowing charge was introduced by the government to ensure those who used what it described as ‘disguised compensation tax avoidance schemes’ pay their fair share of income tax and national insurance contributions.

A government spokesman said last month in response to concerns raised about borrowing charges by MPs: ‘HMRC takes concerns about the welfare of all taxpayers very seriously and recognizes that tax liabilities significant can add significant pressures for some taxpayers.

“For taxpayers who may need specialist help, HMRC advisers encourage them to contact organizations such as Samaritans or Mind. The Samaritans are available to provide emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. HMRC is continuing to review what further support could be provided for taxpayers who need extra help.

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