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Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
There is something of a right old fracas brewing over the secret contract that gives government officials access to detailed records of 16 million houses and property sales. This contract is due to expire in March, and will be up for renewal.
The contract is between the government and Rightmove, the online property search firm, and it gives HMRC staff access to its records of transactions.
Needless to say these records contain details such as sale prices of properties, their internal features and any modifications that would enhance their value.
Why would HMRC be interested, or indeed need to know this this information?
The details gleaned by HMRC will be used by the government to increase council tax. This most hated and iniquitous tax is already being raised again this year by more than inflation. We can be certain that as the government becomes ever larger and more greedy, it will need to find further ways to fund its existence.
The contract between HMRC's Valuation Office Agency and Rightmove, states that Rightmove is bound by the Official Secrets Act and all its staff must sign a confidentiality agreement.
Rightmove keeps data on 16 million properties, and added 3.3 million records to its files in December.
Eric Pickles MP, the Tory shadow secretary of state for local government, said:
"The public will be alarmed that detailed information on 9 out of 10 house sales and rentals are secretly being passed from estate agents to tax spies without the public's knowledge or agreement. This is a shocking sign of the growing surveillance state under Gordon Brown."
The government claims that the contract was simply part of its efforts to keep records up to date.
They would say that wouldn't they?
The solution for the taxpayers of Britain is to boycott Rightmove. That will kill off this contract pdq.
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