MP’s on the Public Accounts Committee attacked the way the Revenue and Treasury took staff from accountancy firms like PriceWaterhouseCoopers to advise on tax “on secondment” – because those consultants go off and advise firms on how to exploit loopholes on the laws they drew up. It’s a “too cosy relationship”, with tax avoiding consultants shuttling between government and industry, advising on avoiding tax laws they helped design. It’s what Margaret Hodge calls “Poacher turned Gamekeeper Turned Poacher again”
Margaret Hodge and the MP’s on the Public Accounts Committee are right.
But Ed Balls has also outsourced the Labour opposition’s economic policy to tax avoidance advisers PriceWaterhouseCoopers as well.
Balls said PriceWaterhouseCoopers gave him a “"a research assistant/analyst to support me in my opposition front-bench role" for free last year. He’s not the only one. Since 2009 PriceWaterhouseCoopers have given over £600,000 worth of “advice” to the Labour Party’s front bench
In the latest Register of MP’s Interests, Labour’s Shadow Treasury team announce the latest PriceWaterhouseCoopers agents in the Labour Party.
Labour’s Shadow Treasury Ministers - Kilmarnock MP Cathy Jamieson and Nottingham MP Christopher Leslie - both announce “the services of a Technical
Support Analyst to support me in my role as a Shadow Treasury Minister during the passage
of the Finance Bill 2013 committee stage, for three months between 18 March and 18 June” That “analyst” came from PriceWaterhouseCoopers: Labour let PriceWaterhouseCoopers help write up the way they take on George Osborne – which is why they are so useless at taking on the Tory Treasury.
PricewaterhouseCoopers knows all about tax. It helped both Vodafone and Goldman Sachs on their controversial tax deals, spiriting billions away from the Treasury and onto corporate balance sheets. MP’s recently uncovered another 'extraordinary' structure 'to avoid tax on UK properties',
And it isn’t just tax:- Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has subcontracted Labour's economic analysis to PriceWaterhouseCoopers - the firm which lumbered the last Labour government with PFI schemes, poor banking supervision and tax avoidance.
Balls and his Treasury Team are not alone. PricewaterhouseCoopers also supplied other Labour shadow ministers with research assistants.
Shadow ministers getting free help from the firm include shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, shadow communities secretary Caroline Flint, plus Jim Murphy for defence and David Hanson for Treasury issues.
When Ed Miliband reshuffled his shadow team the positions changed, but PricewaterhouseCoopers stayed the same.
Umunna replaced John Denham, but the management consultants supplied assistants to both. The advice may be free, but it will cost the party dear.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers was one of the main promoters of PFI and was also intimately involved in the financial collapse as Northern Rock's auditors.
It saddled the party with crap, "business-friendly" policies that still damage Labour's credibility.
Its influence on Balls doesn't help Labour's attempts to shrug off some of the failures of the last government.
Balls may not know what he is doing, but PricewaterhouseCoopers does. It plays both sides of Parliament.
Before the last election it ran Frances Maude's "implementation team" which prepared Cameron's shadow ministers for government. Whichever way you vote, PriceWaterhouseCoopers wins.