'Bedroom tax' M-way death inquest

'Bedroom tax' M6 death inquest

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%An inquest will be held into the death of a woman struck by a lorry on a motorway who reportedly left a note blaming the Government.

Stephanie Bottrill, 53, of Solihull, West Midlands, died in the early hours of May 4 last year, after the accident on the M6, just a short walk from her home.

The grandmother's family was reported as saying she had left a note describing how she could no longer afford the £20 a week extra in spare room subsidy payments for her terraced home.

Family members said that note had put the blame for her death on the Government-imposed subsidy - the so-called "bedroom tax".

Just days before dying, Miss Bottrill told neighbours in Meriden Drive she could barely afford to live while others spoke of having to take meals round because they were worried she was not eating.

The inquest is due to be held at Birmingham Coroner's Court.

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'Bedroom tax' M-way death inquest

Most recently HM Revenue & Customs let Vodafone off the hook - for quite a sum. Vodafone paid out just £1.25 billion despite an original tax bill being closer to £8 billion (HMRC has always refused to reveal how much it thought the Vodafone final bill was). The episode was made even more shaming and painful because Vodafone was given several years to come good with the cash owed - even though it was sitting on a substantial cash pile at the time.

The Exchequer is estimated to have lost around £10 million to Goldman Sachs recently through an 'error' made by HMRC. The episode relates to an employee benefit trust run by Goldman allowing employees to take non-repayable loans that had no National Insurance contributions tied to them. HMRC did claw back the full amount from more than 20 businesses - but not Goldman. HMRC remains cagey about the details of the deal. Little HMRC accountability or transparency.

Huge problems with QinetiQ, the former Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, or DERA. A lack of clarity on contractual arrangements at the outset didn't help, allowing private equity company Carlyle to hammer the price down (why would you start negotiations when you didn't know the company's true value?). The Ministry of Defence behaved, it was said, like "an innocent at a table of card-sharps". Estimated cost to the taxpayer - £90 million. Huge sums were later made by QinetiQ management when the company listed.

The TaxPayers' Alliances estimates £2.7bn worth of taxpayer cash was wasted with a super-expensive 'National Programme for IT in the NHS'. The Department of Health, in the end, had very little to show for it as a consequence. Another example of poor management and a seemingly ingrained inability to provide taxpayers' with value for money.

"BT is paid £9 million to implement systems at each NHS site, even though the same systems have been purchased for under £2 million by NHS organisations outside the Programme", the Commons Public Accounts Committee noted.

Contentious. The Office for National Statistics estimated this has declined 3.4% since 1997, "with inputs increasing by 38%." The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimate that this inefficiency costs the taxpayer £58.4 billion a year.

Given the above record, are there any deals that the taxpayer has actually won out on? Not many, but the one successful project was the roll out of new Jobcentre Plus offices. It came in £314 million under budget, claims the Taxpayers' Alliance. A small cheer.


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