Some more rules…
Don’t get old in BoJo’s Britain, seems to be an emerging theme.
Did you watch Monday night’s BBC, Panorama?
If you have parents, you should. If you are old, you should and if you are young you should, because you are on the way to being old.
It highlighted the zig-zag corporate structures deployed by care home operators Four Seasons and David Behan’s HC-1 and invited us to ‘follow the money’.
Why they operate with such complexity is a mystery, until you ‘follow the money’.
The programme made it clear, huge sums of money, your money if you have a relative in one of their homes, ends up in tax havens.
The operating principles are a convolution that I have, on several occasions, drawn attention to.
Once, when I expressed a view on Four Seasons, it ended up with them threatening to sue me. They employed the services of Ms Claire Gill, a solicitor with the firm Carter Ruck.
She was charming and professional but I thought I detected, maybe, a hint, she was struggling with the age-old solicitor’s dilemma; what do you do when you know your client is probably wrong.
In the end, I published a letter from them saying how lovely they were and how horrible I was.
I wonder if Ms Gill watched Panorama? I wonder if she, like the rest of us, is getting old?
Regular readers will know I have also drawn attention to the activities of HC-1.
… Behan is the former boss of the CQC, now the chair of struggling Health Education England and sits with the Board of NHSE.
I have a number of questions and I expect you do, too?
The central question is; I think, a moral one. Is it right that older people are divested of their assets, in whole or in part, only to watch their cash end up in a tax haven?
The next question is; if you do think it’s iffy, you must ask yourself, why would anyone want to be involved with any firm that does that? Is it OK to take the wages and hold-yer-nose?
Some years ago, when Behan was the chief executive of the CQC, I was critical when they closed care homes on Friday nights, leaving local authorities with a headache and the residents wrapped in blankets being carted off in ambulances.
He asked to meet me. We had a civilised discussion that culminated in him saying; ‘I should keep him honest…’
There is nothing dishonest about HC-1’s activities. But…
… is he doing the right thing? Is Behan breaking fit and proper person rules?
One of them is;
‘… not [to have been] responsible for, privy to, contributed to or facilitated any serious misconduct or mismanagement (whether unlawful or not) in the course of carrying on a regulated activity or providing a service…’
HC-1 is a regulated activity but it is not unlawful to send money to tax havens.
There is no ‘mismanagement’ at HC-1, indeed there is very careful management, scrupulous and focused. How else do you get millions through a labyrinth of companies to end up in the likes of the Caymen Island.
But… is it right?
If it were a taste it would be bat soup. If it were a smell it would be like the whiff you get, from the New York drains on a sweltering August afternoon.
How about the Nolan Principles of public life? Have a look at 1.1. You be the judge.
What all this tells us is;
If it’s possible for smart people, with smart lawyers, to wave millions out of the care system, we need some new rules.
If it’s possible for someone (whoever they are) with conflicting interests, to be part of running the NHS, we need some new rules. If it’s not possible to get people to do, what you might think, is the right thing, we need some new rules.