Further successes against payday by payday models - Apus and Vela withdraw appeals
Apus Contracting Ltd and Vela Contracting Ltd - both based in Rawtenstall and operating under the Zeva brand – classified amounts of their workers’ wages as unsubstantiated and inflated & lsquo;expenses’ to make them exempt from tax.
Workers were supplied to carry out roles in factories producing cheese and other dairy products and were automatically enrolled onto the scheme. Their & lsquo;expenses’ were then sent to another company called UKPA & lsquo;for verification’.
UKPA claimed nearly 30% of the estimated expenses as a service charge, which reduced the workers’ wages below the National Minimum Wage rate, which is a critical breach of GLA Licensing Standards.
Apus Contracting, Vela Contracting and UKPA were all owned directly by the same person – company director Gary Butterworth.
The GLA investigation found no expenses were ever checked or verified by UKPA and no evidence was provided by Apus or Vela to support their case.
It was also discovered that Vela had withheld wages from its workers by failing to pay holiday pay after workers left the company, which constitutes another critical breach of GLA Licensing Standards.
The GLA revoked the licences of both companies & lsquo;without immediate effect’ in August 2013.
Zeva subsequently lodged an appeal against the decision, which allowed them to continue to trade until their case was concluded, and announced they would & lsquo;vigorously defend this revocation’.
However, instead of fighting the appeal – which had been scheduled to start in court on Monday (15 December) – the case was withdrawn for & lsquo;commercial reasons’, as stated on the Zeva website.
“In my opinion this appeal was entered solely to prolong the amount of time these companies could operate and bank further profits,” said GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent.
“They have also sought to adjourn the hearing in order to prolong this period, wasting more public money.”
During the GLA’s investigation of Apus and Vela, Mr Butterworth attempted to distance himself from the companies’ operations by restructuring the businesses through a series of companies registered in offshore tax havens, though he remained the beneficial owner throughout.
Prior to the hearing, he altered the structure of his businesses again with no proper explanation.
In withdrawing both appeals the Zeva press release of 12 December 2014 said it was their & lsquo;firm intention to continue to operate a “Pay Day by Pay Day” model outside of the sector’.
Mr Broadbent added that he was concerned that Zeva considered it to be acceptable to operate this type of tax relief scheme in areas outside the GLA’s control. He added that details of the outcome of the appeal would be referred to HMRC to address the continued use of the “payday by payday” scheme.