In late October, BrightHouse, the rent-to-own firm, was ordered to pay £14.8m for mistreating customers.
The company offers those with poor credit files and little ready money access to goods they couldn’t otherwise afford. However, this modern version of HP comes at a considerable cost. The cheapest washing machine offered by BrightHouse, for which a similar model costs around £250 on the high street, totalled £1,056.12 over three years.
This is a poverty premium. If you are in need, and you can’t afford it, you’re going to pay even more. And if you get into difficulty, that’s going to cost more too.
BrightHouse said they’d pony up. They apologised. But that was after the fact.
If you are in need, and you can’t afford it, you’re going to pay even more
Last week, there was much noise around the Paradise Papers – details about where the super-wealthy were funnelling their cash to deliver bigger returns and cut tax liabilities. I’m sanguine about much of it. That Lewis Hamilton gets cute to save VAT on a gaudy plane is galling, but such things go on. Of course, it’s doubly frustrating because it’s the wealthiest protecting their wealth AND denying income to essential services. Try telling your boss you’d like PAYE paid through a holding company in the Isle of Man.
Those working on regular wages lose a bigger percentage of their income to keep the wheels of the nation turning. The thorny issue of pension funds, which will ultimately benefit many of us, holding positions in tax-favourable offshore places, remains unresolved. Though, increasingly, there are alternatives.