Paying the cleaner ? Get a receipt, says Ed Balls

Angry man with vacuum cleaner

Ed Balls takes his duties as shadow chancellor so seriously that he insists on collecting written receipts from gardeners and cleaners for jobs worth as little as £10.

Speaking on Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live, Balls confessed that there was a time when he failed to collect a receipt for simple jobs such as trimming a hedge. But he has mended his ways since being involved in Treasury matters.

“The right thing to do if you are having somebody cut your hedge for a tenner is to make sure they give you their name and address and a receipt and a record for the fact that you have paid them.”

Asked whether he personally upheld such standards, Balls replied: “Absolutely. That’s because I am the shadow chancellor and I’m extremely careful about these things. Over my life, have I ever given people a tenner and not given a receipt for it? Probably yes.” But he changed once he became “involved in politics and Treasury matters”.

Peter Bone, the Conservative MP for Wellingborough, was unamused by Balls’s “ludicrous” suggestion. Bone said: “There are so many cash businesses. If you go into a cafe for a cup of tea, you would not expect a receipt for it. If you were running a fish and chip shop, you do not always give receipts.

“It shows a complete lack of understanding of business. Is he trying to imply that if you are a small business that deals in cash, you are trying to dodge tax? I think it shows how completely out of touch he is with small business. There is an implication that everybody is out to fiddle their taxes. It is just wrong.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent, for The Guardian on Sunday 15th February 2015 22.39 Europe/London

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