THERE have been renewed calls for a resolution to a long battle over tax-free bonuses for employees at a South Lakeland service station.
The controversy affecting at least 80 employees at Killington Lake, situated along the M6 near Kendal, as well as other service stations countrywide has rumbled on for more than 30 years.
Campaigners say the promised payment of a tax-free bonus to reward low-paid staff at the site, operated by Roadchef, which dates back to 1986 is still pending three decades later.
They are calling for a change in the law to enable payment of the money.
Since 2005, a new board at the Roadchef Employees Benefits Trust Ltd (REBTL) has operated ‘with the sole aim of recovering money and distributing to beneficiaries.’
The outstanding money was paid to the trust in 2018. However, ‘contradiction’ between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs officials on the tax implications of payments, both into the trust and out to beneficiaries, has led to further delays in distributing it.
Christopher Smith, chairman of REBTL, said HMRC needed to ‘do the right thing and bring an end to his mess’.
He called for an ‘urgent’ inquiry to ensure a resolution could be found ‘before more hardworking people die without what’s rightfully owed.’
“The hardworking people at Killington Lake Roadchef service station are among thousands of low-paid people who have waited far too long to get their dues, some dying without ever receiving a penny,” he said.
“I met with Tim Farron in the House of Commons and appreciate the representation he has made to ministers and HMRC on behalf of the beneficiaries in his constituency.”
In 1986, Roadchef boss Patrick Gee set up a forerunner to the John Lewis-style employee stock ownership plan to enable service station workers to be paid through tax-free incentives.
Mr Gee died soon after, leaving the company in the hands of Timothy Ingram Hill, who transferred shares into a separate trust and sold the company to a Japanese bank in 1998, making Mr Gee’s scheme ineligible for exemption from tax under 2003 government legislation.
An HMRC spokesman said: “Due to taxpayer confidentiality, we cannot comment on the specifics of the case, but are working to bring it to a conclusion.”