Quietly slipped out beneath the radar of the MP expenses scandal comes the revelation that some 700,000 hone owners have been paying too much council tax year - and ministers knew about it!
Officials have known since at least 2005 that many homes were in the wrong tax bands and may have overpaid by tens of millions.
But ministers tried to keep the details secret because publicising them would have embarrassed the Government and reduced its tax income.
That is disgraceful. Furthermore, I'd question whether it is legal - surely it constitutes theft or fraud to knowingly take money which did not belong to you? There's certainly been enough of a furore over that NZ couple who disappeared after their bank wrongly put 10 million dollars into their account - if it's illegal for them to take money paid to them incorrectly then it must be illegal for our government to do the same?
Regardless of the legal implications, the sheer contempt for taxpayers is the issue here. They've known about this issue for at least four years (it doesn't say how many years this has been going on - only how long they've known about it). They weren't concerned about how this would affect the people paying the tax - only about how it would look in the media!
The minutes read: "Concern was expressed about the possibly knock-on implications for billing authorities and adverse press coverage this could generate in the current climate."
Who was in charge of the Treasury in 2005?
A certain chap called Gordon Brown.