The work and pensions secretary Peter Hain started the week calling for ordinary people to “take responsibility” for pensions.
Unfortunately, Hain is less keen to take responsibility for the money he received in donations for his failed bid for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party last year.
It appears that Hain has yet to declare at least £10,000 in donations from “City or business people” to his campaign.
This follows Hain suddenly remembering some donations late last year.
One of them was £5,000 from debt consolidation company boss Neville Allport.
His company Picture Financial Services offers cheap credit.
“You can even borrow up to 125 percent of the value of your home,” says its website, “something that traditional lenders won’t consider.”
The company website includes Hain’s ringing commerical endorsement.
It reads, “Picture Financial’s success is good news. It is exactly the kind of energetic young company we need. It is aiming for the top, with a vision to be a market leader within five years.”
It is signed “the right honourable Peter Hain MP, secretary of state for Wales”.
It is unusual for a company to receive a public endorsement from a cabinet minister.
The 10.9 percent APR interest charged to people already in debt is very profitable. The Bank of England base interest rate is currently 5.5 percent
Last year over 30,000 homes were repossessed after people got into trouble with debt.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders predicts the figure to rise to over 45,000 this year.
The Advertising Standards Authority said one Picture commercial breached advertising rules.
It said, “We noted Picture had intended to depict the ease with which borrowing requirements could be discussed over the phone with them, even during the course of a busy day.
“We considered that the light-hearted tone of the ad, including the interruptions from family members, suggested that the decision to take out the loan had not been carefully considered and that it was an everyday occurrence.
“We concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.”
Apax Private Equity is the biggest investor in Picture Financial Services.
Sir Ronald Cohen, former executive chairperson of Apax Partners, Britain’s biggest venture capital company, is employed by Gordon Brown as a foreign policy adviser.
Cohen has given over £1.5 million to Labour.
While campaigning for the deputy leadership, Hain, in words that were clearly heartfelt, defended the Labour Party taking money from private equity companies.
It’s a shame he was less helpful to the disabled Remploy workers when he sacked them despite getting £3,500 from the workers’ GMB union.