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The Troublemaker—Care home raised fees to line rich bosses’ pockets

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Issue 2758
Good care services are essential
Good care services are essential

Britain’s biggest care home ­operator raised fees for residents in the pandemic while funnelling cash to its super-rich owners.

Private equity-owned HC-One has been accused of using loans and a complex web of offshore structures to “extract cash” and reduce its tax bill.

Newly published accounts reveal the company, which has 8,000 residents in 170 care homes, increased fees to ­residents and councils by 3.6 percent last year.

It meant that the average resident was paying £40,196 a year by September 2020.

Meanwhile, its founder, Dr Chai Patel, a Labour donor, extracted £2­million in “management fees” during the year through his investment vehicle Court Cavendish.

Accountancy experts claim HC’s owners have used a complex web of loans and shell companies in tax havens to extract cash and reduce taxes payable in Britain. HC-One’s ultimate parent company is incorporated in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.

It also owns property through a company registered in the Isle of Man, where profit from rental income is not subject to corporation tax.

HC-One said its overseas companies are registered for and pay tax in Britain.

Nick Hood, an analyst at advisory firm Opus Restructuring, told This is Money website, “It’s profit extraction, pure and simple. What is that doing to the quality of care at the frontline?”

Prem Sikka, professor of ­accounting at the University of Sheffield, said, “They are essentially loading the ­company up with debt so they can extract returns and reduce the tax bill.

“It’s a murky world and it’s wrong.”

HC-One paid out £48.5 million in ­dividends in 2017 and 2018, while at the same time warning of cuts for care providers.

  • Gambling logos can appear more than 700 times in a single football match, according to a Channel4 documentary.Analysis using methodology drawn up by Dr Robin Ireland, found there were up to 716 gambling “exposures” in a match between Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

They both have gambling sponsors.The industry agreed to a voluntary “whistle-to-whistle” ban on TV advertising during some games.

But Ireland’s research found that their branding is still constantly visible, particularly on pitchside hoardings.

  • An Italian artist reportedly sold an “invisible” sculpture for almost £13,000 at an auction that took place earlier this month,

The art does not exist—except in the imagination of the artist.

According to Italy24News, Salvatore Garau’s sculpture “I am” must be displayed in a private room. The buyer received a “certificate of authenticity”.

Donation of £500,000 follows peerage award

A Tory donor gave the party £500,000 days after he took up his seat in the House of Lords following his nomination as a peer by Boris Johnson.

Lord Peter Cruddas, a leading City figure, helped finance Johnson’s leadership bid. He gave the Tories half a million on 5 February, according to the Electoral Commission. He was introduced to the House of Lords on 2 February.

Cruddas founded the spread betting group CMC Markets which is worth close to £1.2 billion.

A former Conservative party treasurer, he resigned from that post in 2012 in a “cash for access” scandal. The House of Lords’ appointments commission refused to endorse Cruddas’s nomination.

Johnson took the unusual step of overruling its decision.

At the time, Johnson noted that Cruddas had apologised for “any impression of impropriety” and an internal audit had found “no intentional wrongdoing”.

No ‘immigrants or foreigners’ for Queen

In 1968 the queen’s chief financial manager said that “it was not the practice to appoint coloured immigrants or foreigners” to clerical roles in the royal household

However, they were permitted to work as domestic servants, Lord Tryon told government officials.

Documents in the National Archives have revealed how the queen has avoided, and still avoids, the requirements of equality legislation.

In the 1960s government ministers sought to introduce laws that would make it illegal to refuse to employ an individual on the grounds of their race or ethnicity. The Labour government, under its home secretary James Callaghan, had long discussions with royal officials before introducing the laws.

The documents suggest the government thought it could not go ahead without providing exemptions for the royals that satisfied their demands.

The queen has remained personally exempted from those equality laws for more than four decades.

This has made it impossible for women or black people working for her household to complain to the courts if they believe they face discrimination.

Millions lag behind on internet cost

About 2.5 million people in Britain are behind on broadband payments, according to a survey from Citizens Advice.

The number has jumped by about 700,000 since before the pandemic.

Young people and those with children under 18 were worst affected.

Households receiving universal credit were nine times more likely to be behind on their broadband bills than those who were not.

Six months ago the toothless telecoms regulator Ofcom urged providers to offer cut-price deals to those currently on universal credit. Most refused.

British boss’s ship poisons Sri Lankan coastline

A British businessman who prides himself on “preserving nature” can be revealed as the man at the centre of an environmental disaster threatening Sri Lanka (see letters)

Tim Hartnoll owns X-Press Feeders, whose cargo ship sank off the country’s western coast last week after an explosion started a 12-day fire on board.

Hartnoll is chairman of XPress Feeders, which is insured in London. He has blamed the leak on poor packaging.

He has also bought Bawah Reserve, a luxury resort worth £23 million on remote Indonesian islands.

“We wanted to preserve and keep it as the first time when we saw it,” he said.

Hartnoll adds that one aim is to “educate the locals on the importance of keeping the ocean clean”,

“I have always been very passionate about preserving nature,” he assures us.

The things they say…

When did #TheArchers go “woke”? Gay couples, a bisexual not in need of their counsel, an anti-plastics campaign topped up with a bout of alcoholism. Is nothing sacred?’

George Galloway, the former left wing MP, joins the culture war against Radio 4

‘I look back to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it’

Scientist Richard Dawkins reflects on how his upbringing did him no harm apparently

‘They’ve come to see him and the rest of the team score goals, not to make a political statement on behalf of a dangerous Marxist cult’

Conservative thinker Darren Grimes explains why England fans should boo Marcus Rashford

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