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Interest-free Loans

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Can we all get some of this?

Our correspondent writes ...

A few weeks ago I realised I might need to consider replacing my car. It had just got through its annual MOT test without any problems but the service technician warned me that some major components would need replacing in the coming months. These included the clutch, the air-conditioning radiator and the timing chain. Fair do's, I thought, it's been a trusty old servant and it hasn't cost much in repairs since the day in 1998 that I bought it from new. Just regular servicing costs, replacement tyres, and a new battery. Not bad for an 11 year old car.

Then the technician got down to some ball park repair costs. The clutch alone could be anything from 850 to 1,600 but it depended on the type of flywheel that was fitted. And they wouldn't know that until the engine was out. The radiator could add another 450 to the bill and the timing chain would be around ....

Stop! I said. This was already more than I had bargained for and I knew the pension would not cover those kind of costs. 'If I had all that work done, would that be the end of it?' I enquired, grasping straws and hoping I might get another ten years out of the old Toyota.

'Who knows?' he replied. 'It's getting old, just like we are, and parts do wear out.'

Enough said! With a heart that's already given me one scare, I know exactly what he means. Point made! Time to look at alternatives.

Coincidentally, the government have just announced the car scrappage scheme, aimed at getting smoky old bangers off the road while at the same time rejuvenating the motor industry which is suffering from plummeting car sales thanks to the recession. Could this be the answer?

Research soon shows me that it's not the answer. I would get 2,000 off a NEW car in return for scrapping my old car and I would immediately lose another 2,000 in devaluation the moment I drove the new car off the dealer's forecourt! But, on the other hand, there's an identical used car sitting on the forecourt (a 2008 model with only 11,000 miles on the clock) which is already 4,000 cheaper than the new one. I jump inside to have a closer look. It's clean and it smells just like a new car. Apparently, it's one of Nissan's ex-fleet management cars and if I buy it I get an almost new car and I also get to keep the old Toyota. After all, if I'm honest, I'm reluctant to see the object of my motoring affections over the past eleven years disappear into the jaws of a crusher. That's a bit like taking your wife to the vets to have her put down just because you've survived the seven-year itch four or five times!

So clearly the answer is to raise a bit of finance and buy the second-hand model. A quick check with my bank reveals that they are prepared to lend me the money but when they tell me the interest rate it puts a whole new perspective on the deal. The rate in question is considerably more than the 0.2% interest they give me on my meagre savings. In fact, it's many times more! I reject the offer. After all, it's now perfectly clear that the steep loss of interest on my savings account is obviously finding its way into Sir Fred Goodwin's pension pot and I do not feel inclined to contribute more.

Thinking cap on. There must be ways to obtain cheaper loans. I wade through them one by one. Perhaps I could remortgage my share of Northern Rock's headquarters as I am now a part owner; I might even be able to get some funding by selling my involuntary part-ownership of my local branch of RBS. That would teach them not to offer me scandalously high interest rates after they've done their best to bankrupt the country.

But deep down I know none of this is going to work. I'm going to have to pay the going rate if I want that nice shiny car. And I do want it. So I settle down to watch the six o'clock news and the answer comes to me like manna from heaven. Interest-free loans are available from government departments if you know how to play the rules. It works like this:-

  1. You lie about your main place of residence so that you can claim all sorts of grants and reimbursements for things you may, or may not, buy for your secondary place of residence which you may, or may not, have.
  2. You pay half (or none) of your council tax but claim it all back. If you are caught out, you also claim back your court costs.
  3. If you have managed your marital arrangements carefully, you can claim everything twice.
  4. If you want to sell one of your residential assets, tell the Inland Revenue it is your main place of residence and thus avoid capital gains tax.
  5. Start a new porn hire shop in Redditch - register it as a charity to save on taxes.

This is merely a small selection of ruses you may use to obtain money. If you keep quiet about it (i.e. do not tell the Daily Telegraph) you may just get away with it and will not have to repay the loan. Treat this as a gift from the government. If you are caught out, treat it as an interest-free loan - just repay the capital and say, "Sorry." If anyone asks searching questions or demands an explanation, try some of these:

  1. "I've done nothing wrong. It was within the rules what I recently wroted." NOTE: It is important to use this exact paraphrasing so that your accuser does not get the idea you may be half-intelligent.
  2. "Profoundly sorry! Accounting is obviously not my forte."
  3. "It was a pure oversight. We hadn't noticed that our bank balance was not reducing."
  4. "It was all that other bloke's fault. He said it was OK."
  5. "I'm a friend of the Speaker."
  6. "Those blokes in the office insisted I claimed back the interest for the mortgage I do not have."

So that's the way to get interest-free loans. All you have to do now is get yourself elected as an honourable Member of Parliament. This means you have to con an awful lot of people into believing that you're an honest and trustworthy person but do not despair ... it has been done before.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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