I toyed with the story about piranhas attacking swimmers in Brazil. That might be expected to take the shine off the Olympics a bit, what with that and Zika virus. Then I decided on something more fun.
You may remember that Gorgeous George Osborne got a pretty thorough kicking when he hailed as a good result the paltry £130,000,000 that Google agreed to cough up for 10 years of taxes. This is a tax rate of about 3%. Burger flippers pay more than that.
Now the plot thickens. Gorge has been promising to crack down mightily on tax avoidance, though presumably that doesn’t apply to Google or hedge fund managers. He needs to watch his step here.
Gorge holds 6,833 shares in a family business Osborne and Little Group Ltd. This is a wallpaper company that supplies wallcoverings to the great and good, or to the rich at least. In 2015 OLG brought in a cool £35M, paid out £722,000 to various directors, and said, ‘Right. Job done.’ The Toffs seem to have forgotten they haven’t paid any corporation tax at all for the past seven years. Gorge has his nose firmly in the tax avoidance trough.
It gets better now, though I have to say I’m not a fan of the idea of sins of the father being visited on the sons. However, there’s a growing problem with gambling in the UK, and in part this is being fuelled by other Osborne family interests. Gorge’s uncle set up the Toff casino Aspinall’s, which he sold for a cool £40M. Another uncle made £8M from a casino in Oz. A younger brother runs a betting service for people even Gorge thinks are rich.
The biggest problem at the moment is the huge growth in Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, FOBTs. You can drop 300 quid in very short order, and I know somebody who routinely shoves 200 notes in on a daily basis. Now you might think that HMG might take a dim view of this, but no. They’ve actively encouraged the growth in numbers of betting shops, where the majority of FOBTs are to be found.
There’s a good reason for this. The Treasury, Gorge’s bailiwick, rakes in £400M a year from the tax on FBOTs, and this has ‘hardened resistance’ to a Treasury crackdown. Sod the punters, give us the cash.
Just to be even handed here, I’ll point out that Gorge isn’t in this all on his own. A review of FOBTs has been blocked by the cabinet office, where a Mr John Penrose is currently a minister. From 2010 to 2102, he was a minister with responsibility for gambling. During his tenure he was entertained by the gaming industry no fewer than 13 times. Draw your own conclusions.