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mrtickle

Bbc R4 Moneybox Btl Special - Encouraging Fraud?

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iPlayer link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0631nq3 - an mp3 version is available too.

The programme speaks to a panel of experts.

Victoria Whitlock, buy to let investor and writer of the Evening Standard's so-called "Accidental Landlord" columns. Marie Parris, lettings agent and founder and CEO of George Ellis Property Services; Seb Klier from the group, Generation Rent, which campaigns on behalf of tenants; and Louise Oliver, a certified financial planner with Piercefield Oliver.

A satisfying listen for the most part, a couple of lambs to the slaughter in the making, as well as them getting the tax changes wrong :/

Rather disturbingly, one of the "experts" gleefully encourages fraud, egged on by the presenter. I wonder if this is ground for complaints to the BBC?

roughly 2 minutes in...

Presenter: ...there's going to be a new system for wear and tear costs.

Expert: that's right, at the moment landlords can claim 10% wear and tear allowance, so you look at your rental income and knock 10% of that off for wear and tear...

Presenter: Whether you've made any improvements to the property or not...

Expert... that's right! [Very excitedly] It's like a little Billy Bonus at the end of the year!

Absolutely outrageous: both the message and the glee with which she boasted about her fraud.

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Treat the open admission of fraudulent activity on national broadcast media as yet another great advert for putting the screws on these chumps pronto.

Pure hubris.

The BBC appear to have a monumental blind spot regarding buy-to-let. The ignorance is apparently wilful.

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The remark came from accident prone Victoria Whitlock, the Evening Standard's Accidental Landlord & author of How To Be A Landlord. She has participated on HPC before.

https://twitter.com/VicWhitlock

Victoria Whitlock ‏@VicWhitlock Jul 8

#Landlords wear and tear allowance going too in #BloodyBudget? *slums in chair, reaches for revolver*

0 retweets 0 favorites

Edited by little fish

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Treat the open admission of fraudulent activity on national broadcast media as yet another great advert for putting the screws on these chumps pronto.

Pure hubris.

Except it isn't fraudulent. As the speaker correctly says it's an allowance set at 10% of your rent. HMRC doesn't care whether you spend 1% or 100% of your rent on furnishings.

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not sure what the fuss is here.... as confusion of VIs rightly points out, it is an allowance that the owner of a furnished rental property is entitled to deduct in her current tax return calculations

that is, as we know, changing in the future and you should take heart that even knowing it is going has caused her to slump in a chair and reach for a metaphorical revolver

I wonder if she has plenty of leverage?

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No idea why anyone would want to complain to the BBC. Surely the presenter was pointing out that LLs are getting an allowance for expenditure, even when there hasn't been any. Just so that the listeners could go "Well, that's wrong". Oh, and giving Victoria thingy enough rope to hang herself with.

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There's a good solid editorial complaint there regarding bias.

The people who are asked to offer opinions about BTL as an investment were 3 investors, a letting agent and a financial planner and the financial planner just read off Halifax real terms HPI figures of 101% gains nationally over the period she considered and 124% gains in London. She also stated that property beats inflation.

Easiest to use the on-line form here.

The broadcast date was 25 July 2015 and you can just put the start time of the programme in as relevant time (12:04). Choose a suitable title for your complaint.

Probably better to write your own text rather than cut and paste mine, keep it short and sweet. Here is what I went with.

In the programme there were five people asked to give opinions about the likely investment returns from buy-to-let. Four had an explicit vested interest in rising property prices and expansion of the buy to let sector (3 investors and a letting agent). The financial planner interviewed also gave a positive evaluation and emphasised historical house price inflation trends. Nobody even considered falling house prices or the dangers associated with leveraged investment.

Should take you five minutes tops, say yes about receiving a reply to the complaint. You'll need that response, which will be "Calm down, dear", so you can escalate to the ECU and make it count.

The BBC is the Ramper Prime. Editorial policy is that house prices always go up faster than inflation.

Maybe bump the thread if you actually complain.

Edited by bland unsight

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Ok, I was under the impression that you weren't supposed to claim that 10% allowance if you weren't actually spending the money on keeping your tenants' furnishings in good order (I know it wasn't policed/enforced and there were no penalties for lying on the form, but even so). If it really has been a nice little legal Billy Bonus then I'm all the more appalled!

Surely the HMRC tax return doesn't just have a box that says "tick this to get an instant 10% off"? Surely there's some declaration, along the lines of "I the undersigned declare that in claiming this allowance I promise to only spend it in wear and tear items in my tenant's premises"?

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Ok, I was under the impression that you weren't supposed to claim that 10% allowance if you weren't actually spending the money on keeping your tenants' furnishings in good order (I know it wasn't policed/enforced and there were no penalties for lying on the form, but even so). If it really has been a nice little legal Billy Bonus then I'm all the more appalled!

Surely the HMRC tax return doesn't just have a box that says "tick this to get an instant 10% off"? Surely there's some declaration, along the lines of "I the undersigned declare that in claiming this allowance I promise to only spend it in wear and tear items in my tenant's premises"?

Only applied to furnished accommodation, phased out in the budget. Pretty much the definition of a trivial side issue at this point. The blatant ramping is appalling.

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Ok, I was under the impression that you weren't supposed to claim that 10% allowance if you weren't actually spending the money on keeping your tenants' furnishings in good order (I know it wasn't policed/enforced and there were no penalties for lying on the form, but even so). If it really has been a nice little legal Billy Bonus then I'm all the more appalled!

Surely the HMRC tax return doesn't just have a box that says "tick this to get an instant 10% off"? Surely there's some declaration, along the lines of "I the undersigned declare that in claiming this allowance I promise to only spend it in wear and tear items in my tenant's premises"?

HMRC note here. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/pimmanual/pim3210.htm Doesn't seem to say you have to spend any money.

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The blatant ramping is appalling.

Agreed. Pretty much along the lines of "property has gone up between 1983 and now, so it'll always only ever go up".

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Ok, I was under the impression that you weren't supposed to claim that 10% allowance if you weren't actually spending the money on keeping your tenants' furnishings in good order (I know it wasn't policed/enforced and there were no penalties for lying on the form, but even so). If it really has been a nice little legal Billy Bonus then I'm all the more appalled!

Surely the HMRC tax return doesn't just have a box that says "tick this to get an instant 10% off"? Surely there's some declaration, along the lines of "I the undersigned declare that in claiming this allowance I promise to only spend it in wear and tear items in my tenant's premises"?

I believe (a BTLer told me) that it was introduced to cut down on the amount of money being claimed by landlords for furnishing, partly by stopping the common practice of landlords claiming tax relief on furniture for their own houses.

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My complaint is in. FWIW here's my words:

I wish to complain about the blatant bias of this programme in favour of Buy-To-Let being a sound investment (NB it is not a business according to the Bank of England and HMRC). Only recently the Bank of England warned that Buy-To-Let poses a risk to the financial stability of our country, yet no discussion was had about the strong likelihood of house prices falling back down to normal levels, which would render the "business plans" of the callers (and some industry representatives) in disarray. An expert was allowed to state an opinion that "property values always go up over time" as if it were a fact, when in reality any start and end dates can be selected to arrive at a desired "answer". I suggest she look at the period Jan 2008-Dec 2008, for example. The panel should have cautioned that the new tax rules would expose many "portfolios" for the insolvent vehicles that they are, and been advising some callers to sell up and get out while they have a chance.

I reserved the right to be biased in the wording of my complaint :)

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h/t northshore for this post on the Generation Rent thread. I couldn't understand why the Generation Rent guy didn't seem more keen to talk about having the option to buy...

FFS

That makes the contributors, IIRC

  • Four buy-to-let investors
  • A person who is arguably a quasi lobbyist for the biggest BTL lender, Nationwide
  • A letting agent
  • A financial planner aggressively ramping property investment

The BBC are a shit-shower.

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Anyone who complained will be receiving their "Calm down, dear" from the YTS boy or girl to whom the responsibility for humouring you has been allocated. This is what I got.

Thank you for contacting us regarding 'Money Box' broadcast on 25 July.

With regards to the discussion surrounding buy to let properties, we understand that you feel the panel was one sided in the debate and as such, the programme lacked balance.

In the programme Ruth Alexander interviewed Victoria Whitlock, buy to let investor and writer of the Evening Standard's "Accidental Landlord" columns. Marie Parris, lettings agent and founder and CEO of George Ellis Property Services; Seb Klier from the group, Generation Rent, which campaigns on behalf of tenants; and Louise Oliver, a certified financial planner with Piercefield Oliver.
Programmes such as 'Money Box' endeavour to ensure that balance is maintained, however, its not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area. We don't seek to denigrate any view, nor to promote any view.

We appreciate your feedback on this and can assure you all complaints are sent to senior management and programme makers every morning and we have made sure to include your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

Thanks again for taking the trouble to share your views with us.

Kind regards
Richard Carey
BBC Complaints


This initial part of the process is, as far as I can see, a gate-keeping exercise, wherein the BBC humours you and ignores you. The details of the complaints procedures are on the Trust website and this is the document you need to review if you want to keep playing.

The next move is to progress to a Stage 2 complaint, which is handled not by the tea boy, but by the the Editorial Complaints Unit, who might be expected to have a modicum of independence, though I've not yet witnessed it in action in relation to BBC's irresponsible promotion of buy-to-let investment.

I intend to respond to the response tersely, "I am not satisfied that there is any evidence of the BBC's output reflecting a range of significant views regarding buy-to-let investment. Many people, and organisations, including the Money Advice Service, regard buy-to-let as risky, yet I have never heard this significant and broadly held view espoused by a presenter or contributor. Accordingly I am wholly unsatisfied with the response I have received and ask that you confirm that it would now be appropriate to escalate my complaint to Stage 2 and for me to address my complaint to the Editorial Complaints Unit."

The detail of your rebuttal of "Calm down dear" will be different to mine and will depend on the complaint you made and how you were told to calm down. (If you want any help crafting it bump the thread of contact me via PM if you prefer.)

Game on. Bump the thread if you're still playing. Don't get too carried away drafting, it's about resource burn. Soaking up ECU time handling legitimate complaints is probably what actually brings attention to the complaints, not their substance.

I'll bump again once the response to my "I will not calm down" comes back with details of how to work with the editorial guidelines to ensure you are making a complaint that the ECU cannot brush off without presenting it to the programme makers. It is more than likely that the programme makers are totally ignorant about the Bank of England's position on buy-to-let as presented in the Financial Stability Report.

Buy-to-let lending could pose a risk to financial stability. The actions of buy-to-let investors affect the broader housing and mortgage markets as individuals compete to buy the same pool of properties. Looser lending standards in the buy-to-let sector could contribute to general house price increases and a broader increase in household indebtedness. And in a downswing, investors selling buy-to-let properties into an illiquid market could amplify falls in house prices, potentially raising losses given default for all mortgages. This could be a particular concern in a rising interest rate environment, if properties become unprofitable given higher debt-servicing costs. Buy-to-let borrowers are potentially more vulnerable to rising interest rates because loans are more likely to be interest only and extended on floating-rate terms, and affordability tends to be tested at lower stressed interest rates than owner-occupied lending

Source: Bank of England, Financial Stability Report, July 2015.

Whichever BBC producer is responsible for that programme is lazy, ignorant and conceited. The unhappy admixture means they are ramping crap houses and giving exiting BTLers a parachute they really do not deserve. We need to educate the BBC.

Edited by bland unsight

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Thanks, and bump. I've received my "calm down" response.

Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC Radio 4's 'Money Box' broadcast 25th July 2015.

We understand you feel a recent report carried out on 'buy to let' was very much biased and failed to provide all the relevant information for listeners.

We can assure you of our commitment to impartial reporting. We seek to provide the information which will enable listeners to make up their own minds; to show the political reality and provide the forum for debate, giving full opportunity for all viewpoints to be heard.

The discussion was made up of a number of contributors as to gather a range of views and opinions. We can only ask that those invited onto the programme provide us with their knowledge and expertise of the given subject.

The BBC does not seek to denigrate any view, nor to promote any view. It seeks rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience.

We regret on this occasion you felt the need to complain and we hope you'll be happier with future reports.

Thank you again for contacting us, we value your feedback. All complaints are sent to senior management every morning and we included your points in this overnight report.

These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

Kind regards

Tanya McKee

BBC Complaints

I'd appreciate any suggestions in replying, or I was going to paraphrase yours? And also, am I supposed to reply to her email, or open a new complaint? When I've done that in the post I found the complaint web-form is (deliberately) restricted to so few characters that by the time you've explained this is an ongoing complaint, and quoted their reply, there's no room for any more text!

Edited by mrtickle

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Thanks, and bump. I've received my "calm down" response.

I'd appreciate any suggestions in replying, or I was going to paraphrase yours? And also, am I supposed to reply to her email, or open a new complaint? When I've done that in the post I found the complaint web-form is (deliberately) restricted to so few characters that by the time you've explained this is an ongoing complaint, and quoted their reply, there's no room for any more text!

Great stuff, Mr Tickle. Very happy to see this thread get a bump.

Paraphrasing my reply seems like a very effective plan.

My death or glory complaint about Today's broadcasts on 10&11 March was all done by e-mail. I didn't even use the form for the first bit, so definitely reply to the e-mail address, (they are allowed quite a while to get back to you, but they will, eventually). EDIT: See below, you need to reply via web form if first contact was via web form

Their complaints machinery allows them to roll similar complaints together, but if they do that, they do that. It's all about resource burn and pushing on through the complaints machinery to the level where they actually have to read what you've written. At Stage 2 the programme makers need to justify themselves to the ECU and then, on appeal to the Trust, a Trust Advisor has to review the ECU's work and respond to that, and then finally when appealling the Trust Advisor's decision to the Trustees, a Trustee has to read it.

All good clean fun and ought to take minimal effort given the idiotic bias.

Edited by bland unsight

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My death or glory complaint about Today's broadcasts on 10&11 March was all done by e-mail. I didn't even use the form for the first bit, so definitely reply to the e-mail address, (they are allowed quite a while to get back to you, but they will, eventually).

Not sure that works if you start off with the form as the response states:

NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.

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Not sure that works if you start off with the form as the response states:

Oops. It's perfectly possible to begin a complaint by raising it directly with the programme makers and the programmes themselves have e-mail addresses. Hence I corresponded (briefly) with the editor of Today (Sarah Nelson) but when I pushed back on her "Calm down, dear" I immediately got a terse (and presumably cut and paste boiler plate) "Of to the ECU you go", (which might be perhaps not wholly misleadingly construed as the programme makers equivalent of a troll bin, ;) ) Hence at all times with Today I was corresponding with monitored e-mail addresses

You are evidently right, Neverwhere. It seems I did not read the e-mail properly. It seems pretty clear that if you started with the web form, you're going to need to go back to the web form, quoting the reference allocated to your complaint, in order to Level Up to Stage 2 and the ECU.

Apologies to anyone who wasted any time sending the e-mail, (though you ought to be able to harvest the text for submission via the web form.

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