Saga, the UK travel and insurance company for the over-50s have made 100 people redundant, according to Kentonline. At Jan 31st 2016 Saga’s pre-tax profits rose from £113.8m to £176.2m a rise of 54.8 per cent. Profits before tax were £103 million for the six months to July 2017, down 6.3% on the same period last year.
Saga and their address – “Enbrook Park; Sandgate; Folkestone; Kent; CT20 3SE – appear in the Paradise Papers which is current through 2014.
Appleby Trust (Jersey) Ltd was a signatory for the Saga Employee Benefit Trust which was connected to Acromas Holdings Limited Group who in turn is connected to Acromas Trustees Ltd in Jersey
Since 2014, Saga has floated on the stock market and appear in the FTSE 250. Whether or not they still use Appleby Jersey for the Saga Employee Benefit Trust is unknown.
Employee benefit trusts have been used as a mechanism for companies to pay high earners in a tax-efficient manner. The employer deposits money into an offshore trust for the benefit of employees, or their families, who receive payment through tax-free loans. This process can allow employees to postpone — or completely avoid — paying income tax or national insurance contributions.
Lance Batchelor the Saga Group Chief Executive Officer (pictured) remuneration including bonuses, pension was £1.6 million for 2015/16, down from £5.3 million in 2014/15. Lance served in the British Royal Navy for eight years, retiring as a lieutenant. He was the former CEO of Domino’s Pizza and Tesco Mobile. Lance received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1993.
So did all these executives and/or their families benefit from Saga’s Employee Benefit Trust through tax-free loans? And did they postpone — or completely avoid — paying income tax or national insurance contributions? Did normal employees of Saga, those who answer the phones, benefit – possibly not.
Now do remember in 2015/16 when Lance was Group Chief Executive, the Saga Group Ltd had issues paying their business rates. This meant Shepway District Council raised a liability order and passed it on to bailiffs to collect. Of course Saga settled the outstanding amount.
Saga has said in a press release, the redundancies would ensure the business remained sustainable in the long term. Also, as Saga’s six monthly profit is down by 6.3%, might that have anything to do with the redundancies? Or could it be the cost of its new ships, being built in Papenburg in Germany. The second ship was ordered after Brexit and therefore costs Saga 10% more than it was going to. And would Lance make himself redundant as he appears to be failing the shareholders?
We hope those who have been made redundant and were stood over by Security as they cleared their desks, before being marched out of the building, find another job in the near future.
The Shepwayvox Team
There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in this blogpost have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.