From Another Planet?

June 3rd 2006

The recent news in all the national dailies that the Inland Revenue are wasting more than a £1 million pounds in tax credits every year doesn’t come as a surprise to me after a recent telephone conversation I had with another Government department.

The Ministry of Pensions, or whatever name they’re calling themselves at the moment, sent me a circular telling me that I may be entitled to extra old age pension benefits, giving me a number to call. I rang them, but not with any great hope that the outcome would be beneficial to the Ravenscroft family purse. The woman on the other end told me that I would have to answer various questions and if the answers to the questions were favourable I might qualify.

The questions were what you would expect: Are you a homeowner?; Do you have any income other that your pension; Are you British: et cetera et cetera. In other words questions to which they already knew the answers if they’d only trouble themselves to look them up. Then, after about ten very boring minutes, when we’d moved from my personal details and onto The Trouble’s, the woman asked: “Does your wife come from another country?”

”No,” I replied. Then, seeking to inject a little light relief into the proceedings, I said: “From another planet maybe……”

There was a long pause, then: “From another planet?”


Another long pause. “But not from another country?”

”Well I’m not sure. Possibly. Maybe the planet she’s from is more advanced than  Earth and they don’t have countries, maybe they did have countries at one time but they’re all one country now – you know, like the European Economic Community but spread worldwide.”

There was an even longer pause before the woman said: “I think we’ll put that question on one side for a while. Come back to it later.

In the event we didn’t go back to it because a few questions and answers later she decided that there wasn’t any point in continuing  because taking into consideration  the answers I’d given so far it would be most unlikely if I did indeed qualify for extra pension benefits.

So, with staff off this calibre cluttering up the system is it any wonder that the Inland Revenue are wasting £1 billion pounds a year? I’m surprised it isn’t ten billion.