Monday, 15 June 2009

Open Europe Exposes Profiteering at Taxpayers' Expense

£10m Euro cash for Kinnocks
David Wooding Sun - 15 June 2009

FORMER Labour leader Neil Kinnock and wife Glenys have pocketed £10MILLION on the Brussels gravy train, it was revealed yesterday.

The couple have raked in £5.3million in allowances and £2.6million in wages, and will now be collecting more than £183,000 a year from a lavish pension pot.
Details of their rich pickings emerged as Mrs Kinnock becomes Gordon Brown's Europe Minister - on a £83,045 salary.
Figures show during 15 years as an MEP, she raked in £775,000 in pay plus £505,000 in daily allowances.
She also drew up to £1.2million travel expenses, £577,000 in office running costs and £2.3million in staff allowances.

In nine years as an EU Commissioner, her hubby got £1.85million in wages, £277,000 in housing allowances and £64,000 for "entertainment", plus a £336,602 "golden goodbye" when he stood down in 2004.
Anti-waste campaigners also demanded to know about their housing expenses.
The system allowed them both to claim accommodation costs, despite sharing a home in the Belgian capital.

Mats Persson, of the pressure group Open Europe, said: "The EU has made them millionaires." The Kinnocks' spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

.....and from the "Sunday Times"

Glenys and Neil Kinnock have six state pensions
Bojan Pancevski and Robert Watts Sunday Times - 14 June 2009

GLENYS KINNOCK, the new minister for Europe, has amassed six publicly funded pensions worth £185,000 per year with her husband Neil, the former leader of the Labour party.

They have already received up to £8m of taxpayers’ money in pay and allowances, he as a European commissioner and she as a member of the European parliament.

The pair are already drawing payments from three of their taxpayer-funded pensions. Glenys Kinnock, 64, soon to be elevated to the House of Lords alongside her husband, is collecting a teacher’s pension and from next month is entitled to another from Brussels with an estimated annual value of £48,000.

Lord Kinnock, 67, is receiving one pension as a former MP and a second for his service in Brussels, together worth more than £112,000.

Glenys Kinnock is simultaneously drawing a ministerial salary of £83,275. Her job entitles her to a further ministerial pension.

After she retires from her job she will be eligible to draw a further UK-based pension related to her service as an MEP, worth £19,730 a year.

Neil Kinnock, who resigned last week as unpaid chairman of the British Council to avoid “perceived conflict of interest” with his wife’s ministerial role, receives a pension of £83,089 for his service as European transport commissioner between 1995 and 1999 and vice-president of the commission from 1999 to 2004.

He receives a further £28,936 a year for his 25 years’ service as an MP, including time as leader of the opposition. He also claimed £13,700 of allowances while a member of the House of Lords during 2007-8.

During their time in Brussels both Kinnocks claimed a housing allowance on top of their incomes, even though they lived in the same home. This alone would have netted the couple almost £600,000 over 10 years.

“The Kinnocks are Brussels’s very own Lord and Lady Expenses,” said Mats Persson of Open Europe, the London-based think tank that calculated the Kinnocks’ earnings.

“One has to question whether Lady Kinnock is a suitable minister for Europe. How can she distinguish between the interests of Britain and the interests of the institutions that she and her family have relied upon for their income for so long?”

The precise amount of taxpayers’ money the Kinnocks received for their European roles has not been made public. However, Open Europe has calculated that the couple claimed £6m in staff and salary allowances and would have received a further £1.7m if they had claimed the maximum to which they were entitled. The Kinnocks did not dispute the figures when showed them by The Sunday Times.

Glenys Kinnock, a teacher who went on to become the most-travelled British MEP, clocking up almost 130,000 air miles in a five-year term, also employed her daughter Rachel as an executive assistant.

Kinnock failed to mention that she employed her daughter in declarations of financial interests covering the period since 2004. The practice of employing family members has since been banned. Rachel is now in charge of events and visits at Downing Street.

The Kinnocks’ Cambridge-educated son, Stephen, 39, director of Europe and central Asia at the World Economic Forum, spent eight years in Brussels in senior positions with the British Council. He is married to Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the leader of the Danish Social Democrats, who was an MEP between 1999 and 2004.

Glenys Kinnock has also been accused of using her influence in the Socialist group to support a “campaign against transparency”.

Marta Andreasen, the EU whistleblower, was sacked by Neil Kinnock, then an EU commissioner, when she raised concerns about possible fraud in the EU accounts.

This weekend Andreasen, now a UKIP MEP, said: “There was a clear conflict of interest as, in support of her husband the commissioner, Mrs Kinnock lobbied with the Socialist group to vote against allowing me to reveal my findings in parliament.”

Kinnock has also been identified as claiming her allowances even on days when there was no official business.

Her spokesman said: “As minister of state, Glenys Kinnock will not draw from her Westminster pension. She has a small contributory teacher’s pension and has contributed for 15 years to the European parliament’s additional voluntary pension scheme. She will be entitled to a ministerial pension.

“All payments to Glenys Kinnock were made as the salary to which she was entitled as an MEP, exactly the same as all UK MPs. Staff and office expenses were exactly the same as all other MEPs. No payments could affect \ judgment as a minister and she will properly fulfil all her duties as a UK minister.”

© Sunday Times

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