Readers may remember the article by Retired Hack which we published last week after he discovered that Cabinet member, Cllr Edward Giles, is presenting a talk to Conservative Association ladies entitled “How wills and trusts can protect your assets from care home fees and other unwanted claims”.
On the question of whether there was a contradiction of his two roles, Cllr Giles said there was none.
Views of a barrister and an independent financial advisor
After running the article we got in touch with a couple of other Isle of Wight councillors, who, because of their professions, we thought might be able to cast some further light on this.
Firstly we spoke with Cllr Jonathan Bacon, who is also a barrister that lectures in law. He told On The Wight, “I assume Councillor Giles will be declaring a pecuniary interest and withdrawing from all decisions to be made by the Cabinet and Full Council which impact upon care homes as he pursues possible gainful employment after next year’s elections.”
“Ethical and moral conflicts”
We also spoke with Cllr Chris Welsford, who is both an investment manager and independent financial advisor. He told On The Wight, “I am surprised that Cllr Giles does not see the ethical and moral conflicts in his delivering this talk, at this time, given his role as a senior cabinet member in an authority that is struggling financially to meet its obligations to Adult Social Care.
“As Cllr Giles himself acknowledges, it is unlawful to deprive the local authority of its right to capital in calculating the burden of care fees that should be met privately.”
Title of talk is concerning
He went on to say, “It is one thing to be in a position where you have inadvertently placed your capital outside the reach of the local authority, whilst say attempting to legally mitigate the impact of inheritance tax, or as a consequence of using life insurance bonds as an investment vehicle. It is quite another to follow the sort of advice you might expect to hear in a talk explicitly entitled ‘How wills and trusts can protect your assets from care home fees and other unwanted claims’.
“To say that he will be making this point in his talk seems to me to compound the matter. That suggests that he will be warning people of the consequences of not adequately masking their true intent in order to deceive the local authority.
“I think the title of the talk should perhaps be altered to: “the completely unintended consequences of lawful tax and estate planning”…the only trouble with that is, that as soon as you know the consequences, it’s a bit difficult to argue that was not a partial factor in adopting such tactics.
“In any event, as a senior controlling member of our authority and a solicitor who should have a good knowledge and understanding of ethics, it should be apparent to him that there is a conflict between publicly advising people on how to ‘protect your assets from care home fees’ and the Isle of Wight Council’s predicament over Adult Social Care funding, for which he has a collective responsibility.”
Image: © Isle of Wight Council