Friday, May 08, 2009

Were they using gold-plated bottles of bleach?

I see the piggies with snouts in the trough are getting it in the neck this morning after the Telegraph has got the scoop on unredacted MPs expenses receipts. It's wonderful to see the Prime Minister has been pulled into it too, having paid money to his brother to pay for a cleaner for his private flat between 2004 and 2006, to the tune of £6500.

Obviously this has raised eyebrows, and the official line is that Gordon and Andrew shared a cleaner who Andrew paid directly and Gordon paid Andrew his share. However I notice there are some questions that our good ladies and gentleman of the press haven't asked yet (that is to say I've not seen these questions yet anyway).
  • Between 2004 - 2006, Gordon Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and lived in the flat above Number 10 Downing Street having swapped the Number 11 residence with Blair some years before. So please, pray tell, why did his private flat need cleaning so much?
  • For a cleaner to clean a three bed Victorian terrace house it's going to take a cleaner a couple of hours a week at around £10 per hour. That's £2080 over two years. Brown's bill was £6577 over 26 months, why?
  • Given we're talking about a flat, not a house, that works out to a cleaner charging £30 per hour, for two hours per week. A tad steep, no?
  • Of course, it may be that actually the cleaner cost less. Reporting suggests that Gordon was just covering half the cost of the cleaning bill with his brother Andrew. What size property was Andrew having cleaned? Could it be Gordon just paid half the cost with our money for a quarter of the actual work?
  • The bottom line here is does a cleaner, where one half of its job is cleaning somewhere that is hardly lived in, really cost £12,000?
I still however come back to the first point. For a man who was living in a grace and favour home, and if memory serves me correctly, had his family living with him for the most part, why did he need to have his private flat cleaned so much at such cost?

UPDATE: £357 per months for just 7 hours work? That is £51 per hour. Jesus.

57 comments:

Grumpy Old Man said...

Lets be fair-minded, even to Gordon. Commonsense would dictate that the cleaning preson would have to be security vetted, even for GB's private flat - that would come at a price. Anyway you won't get a cleaner for less than £15 an hour in central London. Sarah and the kids might well have used the flat during periods of intense activity at No. 11, if only to avoid collateral damage from ballistic Nokias. The dodgy bit is bringing his bro. into private arrangements in such a byzantine way. Is it just another example of Gordo's overwhelming urge to make the simple complicated. or something more sinister?
wv:scrost

Anonymous said...

And he was married back then, shouldn't Sarah be doing the cleaning?

JMB said...

Has anyone checked whether he was letting out the empty flat?

Anonymous said...

Who's your cleaner? Speedy Gonzalez!?! You won't get proper cleaning done in two hours, you slovenly person!

Anonymous said...

Knowing how he treats the working class, I am sure that if a clever member of the press finds the cleaner, she may very well spill the beans..i.e. what she was paid per hour, what work she did, and for how many hours per week.

Carlos said...

Vetting at that level would have cost no more than about £200 and/or would have been carried out by our friends on the riverbank...As such, that cost would be neglibible, if even a part of the expenses claim at all.

Paying money to his brother? That just stinks. I'm sure that there are equally bad examples in all parties, but this IS the PM we're talking about. He of the "moral compass" of the "no more sleaze" tags...

Alfred T Mahan said...

Even using Grumpy Old Man's figures it doesn't add up. We need to find out who exactly was doing the cleaning, and what hours went into it, and how it was charged.

It will be no excuse for Gorgon to argue that he paid cash - that's an Income Tax/NI scam.

Gareth said...

The excuse given by Brown's spokesweasel was that it made the cleaner's NI contributions simpler to manage.

How?

If she's self employed it wouldn't make a shit of difference.

If she's working for a cleaning firm one, two, a dozen different people's homes to clean wouldn't make any difference either.

The only way it could simplify NI calculations is if Andrew Brown is her employer. She must be doing a lot of cleaning for that Brown or there are others who pay for her services via the clammy hands of the Brown brother.

BigDai said...

3-4 hrs at around £10-15 would be the max cost. It is interesting to note from the DT's front page that the costs is listed at £241.40, suspiciously close to £250 'no reciepts' necessary limit.

Adviser said...

And of course the cleaner would probably be benefiting from Gordon's generous - if flawed (like their father) - tax credits.

George said...

Are these payments to a "cleaner" really just a cover story for payments towards the upkeep of an illegitimate son?

Only asking...

Anonymous said...

No recepits? Heaven forbid then that the cleaner was working for cash and not declaring it to the tax man.

That would pop the icing on cake

Anonymous said...

I guess now it's time to link the petition for his resignation..

Anonymous said...

Do you know how difficult it is to get the stains off the rocking horse?

dizzy said...

Low.. and no doubt I am now contributing to smears by publishing such scurrilous gossip

Anonymous said...

Why on Earth is so much attention being given to these cleaner payments? Even in the sticks cleaners cost £20 an hour these days (little old ladies who charge £10 an hour are hard to find).

And the fact that Brown shared the cost with his brother is also irrelevant, unless there is some evidence to show that something dodgy was going on here. But speculation doesn't count as evidence.

You're all trying to manufacture a scandal out of very little, when the big scandals -- the second home payments, for example -- are staring you in the face. Keep your eye on the ball, for God's sake.

dizzy said...

I would say that this is just the beginning if the DT's coverage and comment is anything to go by

Anonymous said...

Surely the point is that the rest of us ave to pay our cleaners - always assuming that we have one - out of our TAXED income. Why do MPs who earn over 3x median income make us pay for something that we have to pay for ourselves?

Anonymous said...

And I'll bet the cleaner was an illegal immigrant paying no tax. Lets hope the Sun tracks them down.

Alex said...

Hang on. He wasn't even living there. He was living in Downing Street, with another house in his constituency paid for by the tax payer. So why is the tax payer paying for his brother's cleaning?

Anonymous said...

Leave off the PM! This is actually good for the economy and job creation and is just quantative easing on a smaller scale.

Bill Quango MP said...

My cleaner costs £20 an hour.
Really, its true. 2x ladies x 3 hrs/week £120.

If you can afford the best, or the taxpayer can afford it for you, why not?

They do a great job too.

Anonymous said...

58 pounds a week for a cleaner and you think it's too much.
How far do you think 58 pounds goes in central London?
Evidently you haven't a clue. Telegraph says the cleaner did 7 hours work a week on GB's flat. 6500 for 26 months at 7 hours week is 58 pounds a week or 8.25 an hour. That's 8.25 on the books national insurance and tax. Let's see how the Tory MP's cleaners stack up on that front.
Sit down Dizzy

Anonymous said...

>Surely the point is that the rest of us ave to pay our cleaners

But that applies to everything they're diddling. Why so much focus on the cleaner? The reason seems to be because his brother was involved -- they shared the cleaner, GB just paid his share out of expenses. But that doesn't in itself seem dodgy, over and above the issue of putting it on expenses in the first place, which is the real outrage.

archroy said...

"So please, pray tell, why did his private flat need cleaning so much?"

Bits of broken Nokias don't tidy themselves up, you know.

Twig said...

Gordon could be thanking his lucky stars that it was the Telegraph that won the bidding. Now at least he can control what "unredacted" info is released, and the timing of the Lib/Lab/Tory disclosures.
The Tories missed a trick here.

Gareth said...

No 10 releases Brown's cleaning contract.No evidence there that NI contributions could in any way be more complicated had Brown contracted the cleaner in his own name.

This was G. Brown's second home for expenses purposes despite him living in Downing Street. He surely wouldn't leave it empty and if it were, there would be no need for a regular cleaner. Who was living at the flat; Andrew Brown?(Presumably while renting out his own property)

If so the question is then: Has G. Brown received rental income (in which case we shouldn't have been paying for the cleaner) or has A. Brown enjoyed rent free accommodation?(In which case we shouldn't have been paying for the cleaner)

David said...

It is only a 1 bedroomed flat. What else was she doing for the money??????

Barnaby Todger said...

Will you PLEASE stop using these weasel words "redacted" and "unredacted"? The correct terms are: "censored" and "uncensored".

Disco Biscuit said...

It's all the bogies that needed scraping off the walls and furniture...

rosscoe said...

The article in the times said that he was pating £357 per month for 7 hours cleaning thats £51 per hour

Anonymous said...

rosscoe - £357 a month for 7 hours a week is about £13 per hour

Marc Antony said...

Maybe she was spending an awful lot of time on cleaning up the crap that come out of Brown's mouth.

Triffid said...

Spot on - main point is why are we paying Gordon for a cleaner at a Westminster flat when he lived in 11 Downing Street.

Have to keep in mind that he had a second home and used the allowance for a flat near his constituency.

Anonymous said...

Who goes? You decide!

http://is.gd/xHD5

Anonymous said...

"Even in the sticks cleaners cost £20 an hour"

"Anyway you won't get a cleaner for less than £15 an hour in central London"

Bloody hell, who's doing YOUR cleaning?? I live in Central London and I pay £8 an hour, through an agency. And she does a 3 bed flat in 1 1/2 hours, 3 times a week, taking her time and doing a fine job of it. Now the only reason I can think of that might have stacked up Gordo's costs is that she was doing industrial quantities of ironing too. But I'd hazard a guess that he was contracting the laundry out to someone else and charging for that separately. As for the simplified NI explanation, that's just cobblers, especially coming from the man who was in charge of our tax and NI for a decade.

queen of the cleaners said...

you dont understand.very thing in the flat was white.

it took me hours to clean the place.

George said...

Maybe Mark Oaten was staying over?

Anonymous said...

Maybe this cleaner was a relative or friend. If so, perhaps the country got off lightly... wasn't at the 40K for a spouse in the office rate...

Sam said...

Maybe the cleaner was being paid so well to keep her quiet about the mobile phone bruising?

Brishank said...

Wasn't there some words written recently about Jaqui Smith's cleaner getting £46 p/w for cleaning her secondary home in Redditch? And that is at least a 4 bedroom house as I recall.

Anonymous said...

£15 an hour?! Are you guys mad? Minimum wage in most cases plus a couple of pound in London and this for a brilliant Polish one.

But does anyone round here share cleaing with their brother? What a strange brother, what a strange arrangement!

Anonymous said...

Breaking News

Cleaner found dead in woods. Police believe nobody else suspected.

Cinna said...

Can anybody be surprised that he chose some byzantine arrangement instead of straightforwardly arranging his own cleaner? Nothing Brown has done in the past 12 years has been straightforward!

It's only when the small print is examined that the real depths of his skullduggery become apparent.

Major Plonquer said...

Possibly the 'cleaner' could suck a golfball through a garden hose.

Anonymous said...

The other important question to ask is, who was Gordon Brown's cleaner? A friend or family member perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that I'm allowed to get my house cleaned on the company?

Thought not.

Anonymous said...

Hoon is the one you should be looking at - he must be one of those on suicide watch as it has got to be this flipping of 1st/2nd homes that he has done to build up this property portfolio at our expense.

pop said...

Dizzy

I saw the contract (before it was pulled - the redaction is removable!).

Did you keep a copy?

If so I'd like to know if it was actually for three different properties, not just the two claimed - there are three employers, and three 'blocks' of time -- did brown really require two of them?

Removing the redaction will answer this question -- email me a copy if you can't remove it...

Anonymous said...

He has no idea what labour costs, but we now know what Labour costs.

Anonymous said...

As a cleaner myself I get paid £5 an hour or £25 per property per week - assuming a once week contract.
I found £10 an hour even excessive for London. I am ofcourse working for a little extra cash and I am not earning enough to pay tax - which suits me fine - just wy should I subsidise crooked greedy MPs.

Praguetory said...

Prudence?

tankus said...

Where does his brother live ?..

perhaps this cleaner commuted to Scotland and back to do the other half of the job ...

Does an oyster stretch that far ? ... zone 76 or something ?

Have to admire the commitment

Anonymous said...

He had his own home in Scotland, and a home provided by the taxpayer in Downing Street. So why did he have this third home -- a home in which his brother lived? Most people can just about stomach the idea of MPs having a second home paid for by the taxpayer, but a second AND a third home? Even if this is legal, is it right? And didn't Brown's moral compass tell him it's an abuse?

Anonymous said...

What is the evidence that the cleaner was a "she"? Now, if it was a "he" and a rentboy the costs start to make sense.

Anonymous said...

LETS FACE IT IF YOU HAD TO CLEAN JACKIE SMITHS CARPET INFRONT OF THE TV/DVD PLAYER YOU'D WANT £51 per hour.

Pete said...

paying your Brother to provide a service is not dodgy ??

come on - don't you people ever do ANY Ethics training - or have you NEVER worked or never worked in the private sector ?

I am NOT allowed to have ANY family member involved in any contract I have ANY dealings with.

Unless and until it is cleared by high level management. And even then I would not be allowed near the finance transactions.

At the time of 'employing' a cleaner he was ALREADY living at tax payers expense - in a fully serviced family flat. Now if you can't see anything wrong with claiming MORE cleaning costs off the taxpayer you seriously need to read up on ethics.

It STINKS - I would bet that he followed the normal divvy up; which is to split the 'profits' 50/50 or 70/30 - neither amount being declared as earnings - that is fraud & tax evasion as well as troughing - all from a man who based his ascension to power on being squeaky clean ??