Escalation of complaint to the BBC on reports about tax changes for landlords

by Property118.com News Team

8:39 AM, 7th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Escalation of complaint to the BBC on reports about tax changes for landlords

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Escalation of complaint to the BBC on reports about tax changes for landlords

BBC snipped

In reply to our complaint Click Here the BBC has sent this standard reply to everyone:

“Thanks for getting in touch with us about BBC Business Correspondent Joe Lynam’s reports on changes for buy-to-let landlords broadcast on 28 February. Please allow us to offer our apologies here for the regrettable delay replying to your complaint.

As is always the case for any issue, across BBC News we have carried a wide range of reports on the Stamp Duty and Tax changes, and indeed wider matters such as the proposals on lending criteria from the Financial Policy Committee.

In doing so, we have been careful to fully and fairly explain all sides of the debate, including the Government’s aim to assist first time buyers, landlords’ fears as a result of the changes coming into force, the views of existing rental tenants and potential first time buyers.

Joe Lynam referred to some research which had been undertaken by the Council of Mortgage Lenders / Property Partner which was relevant to the issue being reported. In crediting their research to them, we did not promote or endorse these organisations or their views.

The above all being the case, whilst we appreciate that you may have strong views on the legislation changes as they may affect you personally, we stand by our reporting of this issue as being both fair and balanced.

Thank you once again for getting in touch – we greatly value your feedback which has been discussed personally with the senior editorial team at BBC News. In closing, please allow us to once again apologise for the delay getting back in touch.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

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.”

 

Comments on the reply

Except for the first and last paragraphs, this reply is incorrect.

 

Paragraph 2

The BBC has not carried a wide range of reports on the tax change.  There has only been one other item on TV – a short one on Inside Out in only one region, the South East.  Apart from that there were two short interviews on local radio stations.

This is inadequate coverage of a revolutionary change in taxation, section/clause 24, which departs from Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) by levying tax on a cost, which only applies to one sector of the economy – landlords who own property in their own names – and which retro-actively affects properties bought years or decades earlier.

 

Paragraph 3

The programme on 28 February merely repeated anti-landlord propaganda and Treasury misinformation.  It did not “fully and fairly explain” this iniquitous change in taxation.  There was no explanation at all, and no criticism – even from the one landlord who was interviewed.

Any other landlord given the opportunity to put forward his point of view would have explained what was wrong with the tax change.  This opportunity was hi-jacked by a commercial organisation, Property Partner, which provided a docile landlord, Jaye Cook.  He did not even mention the tax change, let alone complain about it.

Mr Cook had already invested £200,000 in or through Property Partner, which is in direct competition with private landlords for both properties and tenants. Property Partner’s activities will not help potential first time buyers.

The broadcast was planned as part of Property Partner’s co-ordinated campaign to promote itself.  In the Sunday Telegraph that same day, Jaye Cook was quoted as planning to sell his properties.  This was in an article quoting data from Property Partner to the effect that “Buy-to-let could become unprofitable in seven out of 10 towns and cities by 2020”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/personal-banking/mortgages/the-governments-buy-to-let-tax-changes-mean-i-will-have-to-sell/

The following day, Jaye Cook was quoted “Once my fixed rates on some of the properties come to an end, I’m thinking of selling and reinvesting in Property Partner. I’ve already remortgaged some of my properties and invested hundreds of thousands through the platform.”

http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/landlords/rate-rise-could-force-landlords-into-debt-by-2020.html

Last November he was quoted as follows: “Mr Cook says he will put money in crowd-funded schemes such as Property Partner, in which he has invested £200,000.”  It is not clear from this whether this amount was invested in properties or in Property Partner itself.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3334304/Huge-stamp-duty-rises-rental-properties-second-homes-set-kill-booming-market.html

The above shows that Mr Cook was planning to sell his properties in order to put more money into Property Partner.  He was not representative of the majority of private landlords who will be affected by section 24.  He was defeatist, and predicted that lots more landlords would sell up, thereby influencing them to do the same as him.

Then a version of the programme was used the following month on Property Partner’s website which included something that had not been broadcast, and using the BBC News logo.

It started with Joe Lynam mentioning the increase in stamp duty and the restriction on the deductibility of finance costs, and then the interview with Jaye Cook saying he will sell his properties.

The rest of the clip was not included in the broadcast.  In a voice over, Joe Lynam said “And now a study by investment advisers (sic), Property Partner, says the new harsher environment for buy-to-let (BTL) investors could seriously damage the market.”

Then there was a clip from an unnamed person who said “There’s 1.7 million mortgaged BTL homes in the UK at the moment and our study has found that if the interest rate goes up to 2.5%, by 2020 a million of those are going to be loss-making for the owner.  That’s going to have huge ramifications for the housing market and we can’t expect them all to be positive.”

Then in a voice over, Joe Lynam said “But millions of first time buyers priced out of the market will doubtless welcome the changes.  The Treasury says the tax advantages enjoyed by BTL investors are unfair, and the new rules will enable new buyers to get a foothold on the ladder.  Whether that will come at the expense of some investors remains to be seen.

Fortunately Mr Lynam’s propaganda, and his mis-description of Property Partner as investment advisers, were not broadcast.

How did Property Partner acquire a recording of the interview of the man talking about “our study” when it was not shown either live or on iPlayer?

 

Paragraph 4

Joe Lynam did not, as you state  “refer to some research which had been undertaken by the Council of Mortgage Lenders / Property Partner which was relevant to the issue being reported on.”

Firstly. there is no such entity as the Council of Mortgage Lenders / Property Partner.  Property Partner is a commercial enterprise which has no connection with the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Secondly, the issue that was being reported on, according to the newsreader’s introduction, was that “There was a warning today that a million BTL properties could be making a loss by 2020 because, in part, of big changes to the market.  From April, people who buy homes to rent for income will have to pay another 3% in stamp duty.  And from next year the generous tax reliefs are being phased out as well.  Our business correspondent reports.”.

What Joe Lynam referred to was a so-called study “that says more than a million of them [rental homes] could be loss making if rates rise in the coming years”.  This was a non-story, merely a statement of the obvious.  This is quite separate from the changes to taxation and stamp duty.

 

Paragraph 5

The above all being the case, your claim of “our reporting of this issue as being both fair and balanced” is categorically rejected.  Complaint number 2 was that the BBC allowed itself to be used to promote a commercial enterprise: Property Partner. You did so by publicising its non-story about what will happen if interest rates rise, and interviewing its stooge instead of a committed landlord.

Your reply does not answer the question in the original complaint: Why was someone with a vested interest in Property Partner selected as the only landlord to be interviewed about the tax and stamp duty changes?  This denied any committed private landlord the opportunity of exposing the multifarious flaws of section/clause 24.

In addition, your reply fails to address the first complaint: about describing the deduction of a cost, which every enterprise in the country applies under GAAP, as a “generous tax allowance”.  This is pure Treasury misinformation.

It also fails to address the third, fourth and fifth complaints: about Joe Lynam uttering anti-landlord propaganda, a complete untruth, and Treasury propaganda, respectively.

Overall, the Treasury will have been very pleased with your broadcast.  It completely excluded any comment about section/clause 24 or the 3% increase in stamp duty, which was what it was supposed to be about, according to the introduction.



Comments

Mr Barua

10:30 AM, 7th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Thank you for sharing this, I want respond to BBC's reply to me based on the notes above. BBC's online complaint form has limitation of words and I am not in UK and cannot send a post from where I am.

I have emailed to trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk but got automated response "If you wish to contact or make a complaint about the BBC you should do so using their online webform here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/contact.". Any advice?

john lown

11:03 AM, 7th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Good morning,
what did you expect from the British Broadcasting Company; the are reliant upon and obey the government !!
John.

Appalled Landlord

11:11 AM, 7th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mr Barua" at "07/04/2016 - 10:30":

Hi

You escalate the complaint by starting a new complaint.

I would encourage everyone to do the same. You do not need to give any personal details if you don’t want to. The more people who complain, the less easy it will be for them to ignore it.

The details you need about the programme are:
BBC News Channel, 28/02/2016 at14.16.

There are 50 characters for an outline of the complaint, and 2,000 for the complaint itself.
For the outline I wrote “Unacceptable reply to complaint” followed by the reference number that they showed on their reply.

There is not enough space for the detailed response so I wrote a brief summary and asked them to go for the detail to http://www.property118.com/escalation-of-complaint-to-the-bbc-on-reports-about-tax-changes-for-landlords/86035/

My summary was as follows:

”The statements in the reply are not true. The BBC has not carried a wide range of reports on the tax change. The programme did not “fully and fairly explain” this iniquitous change in taxation. The BBC did allow itself to be used to promote a commercial enterprise.

The reply does not answer the question in the original complaint: Why was someone with a vested interest in Property Partner selected as the only landlord to be interviewed about the tax and stamp duty changes? This denied any committed private landlord the opportunity of exposing the multifarious flaws of section/clause 24.

The reply fails to address the first complaint: about describing the deduction of a cost, which every enterprise in the country applies under GAAP, as a “generous tax allowance”. This is pure Treasury misinformation.

It also fails to address the third, fourth and fifth complaints: about Joe Lynam uttering anti-landlord propaganda, a complete untruth, and Treasury propaganda, respectively.

There is not enough space here for a full response, please see http://www.property118.com/escalation-of-complaint-to-the-bbc-on-reports-about-tax-changes-for-landlords/86035/
for the detail.”

michael fickling

11:39 AM, 7th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Perhaps it should be pointed out to the BBC and others..that the governments own background papers on clause 24 itself.. clearly state that clause 24 is not likely to have a significant impact on house prices. Therefore the comments in this programe and elsewhere on first time buyers being priced out...by landlords..... is really ridiculous.
Also as i have said many times on this site.. the maths themselves are clear..landlords buy about 16% of properties coming to market and they generally take care to secure those properties at or below market prices. It is impossible for landlords to have any real effect on the whole market price levels in such circumstances .Thats not an opinion its a simple mathematical fact and fundamentally undermines the governments comments or anyone elses comments in that regard. I hope this aspect will be strongly and repeatedly put before the judge of our pending judicial review. You cant and will not drive a market price upward when you have only 16% of purchases.. and buy at or below market..simple.

Appalled Landlord

12:46 PM, 23rd April 2016
About 3 years ago

I have received a notification from the BBC. They may take longer than 4 weeks to reply, if they do at all. If I want to contact them again I need to use their “webform”. There is no link to it, and I cannot find it on the site that their email linked to.

The notification reads:
bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk

Thank you for taking time to contact us again recently. We had referred your complaint to the relevant staff and are normally able to investigate and reply to most complaints at this stage (which is stage 1b of the complaints process) within 20 working days of receipt, or around four weeks. However this is to inform you that we believe it may now take longer than 20 working days before you receive our reply.

We apologise for this and have brought the matter to the attention of the relevant staff again. The delay in answering may be due to their unavailability or other production commitments. We therefore ask you not to contact us further in the meantime. If however it does prove necessary to do so please use our webform at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints or write to us, quoting the case reference number we have provided.

We aim to use your licence fee as efficiently as we can, so if you have complained about the same issues as others we will send our response to you and everyone. We may also not investigate or reply in great detail if a complaint doesn’t suggest a potential breach of BBC standards, or a significant issue of general importance. This is in line with the BBC Trust’s complaints procedures which you can read at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/complaints_framework/

We appreciate your continuing patience in waiting for a response and will reply as soon as possible.

Kind regards

BBC Complaints team
http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Please note: this email is sent from an unmonitored address so please don’t reply. If necessary please contact us through our webform (please include your case reference number).

Appalled Landlord

15:14 PM, 2nd June 2016
About 3 years ago

I have received the following reply from the BBC’s complaints department.

“Thank you for taking the time to contact us and we appreciate that you felt strongly enough to write to us again. We have noted your points and are sorry to learn you were not satisfied with our earlier response. 

We are sorry to tell you that we have nothing to add to our previous reply. We do not believe your complaint has raised a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation. We will not therefore correspond further in response to additional points, or further comments or questions, made about this issue or our responses to it. 

We realise you will be disappointed to hear this but hope this explains why we are not able to take your complaint further. If you remain dissatisfied about our decision you can appeal to the BBC Trust, the body which represents licence fee payers. The Trust has asked that we should explain to complainants that the BBC's Royal Charter draws a clear distinction between the role of the Trust - which determines the overall scope of the BBC's services and sets its standards - and that of the BBC Executive - which runs the Corporation and decides what to broadcast and publish.

The Trust does not investigate every appeal submitted to it. It will normally hear appeals about the Executive’s decisions only if a complainant can show that they involved a potential breach of the BBC's published standards, or that an operational decision has raised significant issues of general importance. The Trust is the final arbiter of which appeals it should consider. For the full information about the BBC Trust’s appeals procedures please visit www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/governance/complaints_framework/.

If you wish to submit an appeal you must write within 20 working days of receiving this reply, explaining why you wish to appeal. You can contact the BBC Trust at 180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ, or by emailing trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk. Please would you include for them the relevant case reference which you may have been given.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Kind regards

BBC Complaints
http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

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”

They have nothing to add to their previous reply. They have not even acknowledged the points put to them in the escalation of complaint, let alone answered them.

We should not be surprised, the BBC’s complaints system is designed to reject all criticism:
https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/how-to-complain-to-the-bbc/

They said the next step is an appeal to the BBC Trust, which will only “hear” appeals if a complainant can show that they involved a potential breach of the BBC's published standards. These can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/guidelines

An appeal, making clear the actual breaches of the BBC’s editorial standards, has been sent to trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk

A copy of the appeal has been published at:
http://www.property118.com/appeal-to-the-bbc-trust-on-reports-about-tax-changes-for-landlords/87413/

The deadline for submitting an appeal is next Monday. Anyone who escalated the complaint and got the same arrogant reply is very welcome to copy and send the appeal, with modifications to reflect your original complaint and escalation, including your own Case Numbers, and whether you are sending attachments. The more people who appeal, the less easy it will be for them to ignore it.


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