This blog posting represents the views of the author, David Fosberry. Those opinions may change over time. They do not constitute an expert legal or financial opinion.

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Credit Suisse bosses offer to cut their own bonuses by 40%

Posted on 16th April 2017

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I am gob-smacked by this BBC report, for a couple of reasons.

Bonus payments are meant to be paid for good performance, and often referred to as profit-share bonuses, but Credit Suisse has made a loss for the last two years. So why do the bosses think that they deserve any bonuses at all, let alone 78m Swiss francs ($77m; £62m) shared between 12 executives?

To me this seems to be corruption, pure and simple, and it should be stamped out.

The other thing that occurs to me is that these executives knew that, at the upcoming shareholders meeting, their bonuses would be voted down by the owners of the company, and this announcement is a cynical attempt for them to retain some bonus payments, rather than to have the shareholders decree that they receive none at all, as they properly deserve.

So why did the BBC journalist, whose name is not on the story, not think of this possibility, and spend some time investigating, and discuss it in the article? I expect better journalism from the BBC, and I am very disappointed.

UK Government Stealing Money From Child Mental Health Programme

Posted on 16th November 2016

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This BBC report describes how money pledged by the UK government for children's mental health is not getting to "the fromtline". The government promised "£1.4bn for child mental health by 2020" (an extra £250m a year), but instead, much of the money is being used "to offset NHS cuts elsewhere".

This, simply put, is theft and corruption. Do they really feel that, after making NHS funding a major issue in the Brexit referendum, it is OK to play fast and loose with taxpayers' money in this fashion? It is our money, and we have a reasonable expectation that there is honesty and transparency in government spending.

This is rather like what governments around the world did with pension funding. They collected money (in the UK, as National Insurance contributions) from taxpayers, for years, and used it to subsidise other parts of the government budgets; now the state government pension funds are not enough to pay the pensions that are due, resulting in the raising of retirement ages.

In my own work, I am often assigned budgets for specific expenditure (staff, computer systems, etc.) and I am expected to use the various budgets for the purposes for which they are assigned, and I get into trouble if I overspend. Why are governments not held to similar rules? I do, of course, understand that governments need a certain amount of discretionary budget to deal with natural disasters, unplanned military activity (e.g. peace-keeping), changes in national economic performance and the like, but most of the budget should be spent on the things for which it was authorised.

Not only do governments not follow the rules that business are required to follow, but even after the event it is usually not possible to discover exactly how much and on what they have spent our money. Businesses are required to publish audited accounts; it is well past time that governments were held to the same standards.

I Want An Expenses Deal Like This Guy!

Posted on 7th November 2016

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I would really love to have a job with an expenses deal like Ian Cleland, the guy in this report in The Guardian!

I have had many jobs, both as a freelancer and as a permanent employee, but never one where the expenses were handled like that. Ian Cleland claimed for the lease and insurance of a luxury Jaguar for himself and his wife, plus nearly £3,000 for car servicing and new tyres. Cleland also spent £3,000 of taxpayers’ money on first-class rail travel, and his dining expenses included a meal with other staff at a Marco Pierre White restaurant totalling £471 and at the Bank restaurant in Birmingham for £703.45.

When I used my own car for business, I was able to claim a pre-defined mileage rate for it; no extras for insurance, tyres, or anything else. When I had a company car, there was a greatly reduced mileage rate, only for petrol (since my employer was already paying for the car, servicing and insurance). Also, when I had a company car, I was strongly encouraged to use it for all business travel; I would have needed a damned good reason to use the train instead (and never first-class!).

The restaurant bills might be OK, depending on how many colleagues were with him, but the other items simply look like him squeezing out as much money as he could. Of course, his employer has to take a large part of the blame, for giving him the expectation that he could claim such items, and for accepting his ridiculous expense claims. It is not as if the man is poor: his salary of £180,000 a year should allow him to spend some of his own money on meals for his employees; I earn much less than that, and I often buy drinks and dinner for my team members.

Clearly there is still too much money sloshing about in the budgets of government funded organisations, and a culture of corruption. It is us the they are stealing from!