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Hello, and welcome to Inside Out. Here's what's coming up tonight.
Hi, I'm Steve Long, co-founder of The Universal Group. We gatecrash
this man's seminar, which claims to offer financial peace of mind to
the elderly. Why is it you're selling a product
when you are possibly, could be rendering it useless? You've put me
on the spot here... I have put you on the spot, because we've been
trying to get in touch with you. Your office told us you were out of
the country, but that's not the case, you're here, giving another
seminar today. Also tonight, repo man. With the
recession, we've had more cases coming our way. How bailiffs are
kept busy in the recession clearing up bad debt. We've been sent here
today to enforce a High Court writ which orders us to remove goods
from the premises. And, is it right to invite this Mrs Tiggywinkle into
your home? Inhumane, him in a cage is inhumane. He wants to walk two
miles a night and he cannot do it in the kitchen. Oh! What? It bit
I'm Jon Cuthill, and this is Inside First tonight, a story you told us
about. Care for a loved one in later life can cost tens of
thousands of pounds, and so if an expert tells you he has a way of
getting someone else to foot the bill, well, you're going to be
interested. You told us of one company operating here in the South
promising just that. Here's David Whiteley.
One in four of us will need long- term care, and if you have more
than �23,000 in savings and property then you will be expected
to pay for your care. That's a worry for some people who'd rather
keep their assets in the family. I'm Steve Long, co-founder of The
Universal Group, and I'm here to show you how you can avoid care
fees. This man claims he knows how you can avoid care fees. He says
he's better than a solicitor. local solicitor won't be able to do
this, solicitors come to us to do Lovely, thank you, darling. Five
years ago, Bernard and Christine Dillon wanted new wills. They went
to Steve Long. Earlier this year, Mr Long phoned Bernard unexpectedly.
His business had a new product to avoid care fees. When he came, he
said that you could get out of paying care home fees by setting
this trust up that would stop the council from getting their hands on
your money. And it would be �3000, which is a lot of money. So our
first reaction was, well, we'd have to think about that. But, in the
end, he managed to talk us into agreeing with him. But I've since
found that, if a trust was set up for that sole purpose, that that
would disqualify itself. Beryl Shea also had a visit from
Steve Long. He said the money would all be ring-fenced, that you
couldn't... The Government couldn't get hold of it for care home fees.
But he suddenly said, "Well, there is a fee that you have to pay, and
if possible we'd like to have it tonight". And it was 3000... 3,500?
We've asked several solicitors, and they told us similar trusts would
cost from 700 to �1200. Care home fees can run to thousands of pounds
a year, so it's only natural for us to worry about these costs as we
approach old age. Steve Long runs seminars to explain his solutions
to these concerns. We went to some of his seminars and
listened to his claims about himself and his products. This one
was in Bristol. We do seminars like this for
solicitors, a top barrister works along with us. And you'll have a
whole room of solicitors all dealing with elderly clients, they
specialise in elderly client care. Not one of them has ever done that
or knows how to do it. So it's a specialist niche, there are
probably five of us in the country who deal with it. But that's not
true. Caroline Bielanska is a solicitor specialising in wills and
administration of estates. There are lots of professional lawyers
who undertake wills and trusts. And the membership of Solicitors for
the Elderly and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners will
have many thousands of members together who would be able to set
up these sorts of trusts. But also they have to have a very good
working understanding of social care assessments and funding.
she wants to make sure that Peter's inheritance is safe... The man
behind The Universal Group is Stephen Long. In his seminars, he
makes many claims that make him and his company sound very well-
connected and important. I work with the top barrister in the
country, we do seminars like this for solicitors. But we've spoken to
the Bar Council, which represent barristers, and they told us that
no-one would claim to be the country's top barrister. So he
doesn't seem to be quite as well- connected as he claims, but he
sounds well-qualified. Well, I'm a qualified accountant and a lawyer.
He isn't. We've checked with the UK accountancy organisations and the
solicitors' regulation authority. He is a member of STEP, the Society
of Trust and Estate Practitioners. So how accurate are his claims
about his products? Our undercover producer asked Steve Long if an
elderly person who isn't well could use one of the trusts to avoid care
fees. Providing he hasn't already been assessed and isn't already
receiving care, then it's straightforward. The local
authority will look at the reasons that the trust was actually created.
And if they feel that it was done for the purpose of putting the
asset beyond their reach, then, of course, they could take it into
account in an assessment and treat the person as if they still owned
the asset. So the irony is that if the motive is to avoid paying care
home fees, then the trust may end up doing precisely the opposite.
And that is exactly how Steve Long markets his product. I'm here to
show you how you can avoid care fees. In the end, it's the local
authority who decides, so we asked the local government association,
which represents local authorities, just what the rules are. They told
us if you put your assets into a trust deliberately designed to
avoid care fees, then the local authority can treat you as though
you still own the assets. That seems clear, so we wrote to Mr Long
to explain why he gives misleading statements in his seminars. His
office told us he was out of the country until the end of this week.
Then his office claimed some of his mistakes were due to an ear
infection. I hope his hearing is better now, because he's still in
the country and he's giving a seminar at this hotel here in
Gloucester. I do hope his hearing is better, because I've got a few
questions for him. His office said that Universal
asset protection is totally committed to excellent customer
care, and that their fees are not excessive. But Mr Long has not
given specific answers to most of our questions.
I've got to ask you a question, Mr Long. Why is it you're selling a
product called How To Avoid Care Fees when, by marketing it as that,
you are, in fact, possibly, could be rendering it useless? Well,
that's not the advice that we've received. And it's nice of you to
come in unannounced into a seminar here. But we have been in touch
with you, Mr Long. We've asked you quite a few questions about the
validity of what you are doing with these trusts. So by advertising
yourselves as How To Avoid Care Fees, you're shooting yourself in
the foot a bit, aren't you? It's not the advice we've received.
have you received the advice from? This is from the Government. Who's
wrong, you or the Government? I think when we look at the cases
we have dealt with, and you've put me on the spot here... I have put
you on the spot, because we've been trying to get in touch with you.
Your office told us you were out of the country. That wasn't the case,
you're here giving another seminar today. I'm not prepared to discuss
on television the intellectual property that we have. All I can
say is that the trust that we use has a 100% track record, we have
documentary evidence of local authorities accepting that the
trust works. You market yourself as one of only five companies that
specialises in this kind of elderly care trusts, and yet that's not
true either, is it? We say we are one of five specialist providers
that we know of that provide these for other people. But any firm of
solicitors who knows and understands the rules around this
would be able to do that. Strange, but he said the opposite
when he didn't know he was being recorded. Your local solicitor
won't be able to do this. It's a specialist niche, there are
probably five of us in the country that deal with it. So which Mr Long
should we believe, and what can we learn from this?
If you are thinking of putting your property into a trust deliberately
to avoid care fees, remember they're not suitable for everyone
and they may not work. My first reaction was to say no. But he
continued and, as I say, eventually wore us down. If you've met him,
you'll know that he's a very pleasant man, and obviously a very
And that just proves how important your e-mails are, so if you've got
Next, the recession may be officially over, but it's still
tough going out there. When deals turn bad, bankruptcy can be just
around the corner. But help is at hand... Through the bailiffs.
Lawrence Grix is a High Court enforcement officer. He and
colleague Kevin McNally are called in when debtors fail to pay up,
even though a court has ruled they must. I would say everybody's
trying to make a living, everybody's entitled to be paid for
what they've done. Us collecting debts does stop some businesses
going under, it does stop some people losing their homes. Today,
they're about to visit the home of a builder who owes a lot of money.
�4000, to be exact, which he owes builders' merchant for unpaid bills.
There he is. Mr Burns? It can go two ways. We could now be
annoying him so much by keep banging on the door that he could
potentially come to the door with some kind of weapon, so we've got
to be ready for him to be aggressive. Or he could just stay
shut in there. High Court enforcement officers like Lawrence
and Kevin have a lot of clout. They can climb fences, access properties
through unlocked doors or windows, and even break into offices and
factories. And they can seize goods. In lieu of his debts, they are
taking Mr Burns' car. In Plymouth, hotelier Joseph Louie
is hoping they'll help him get the money he's owed. Joseph lent a
former business partner a large sum of cash, but not all of it was paid
back. They went to court and the judgement ruled in Mr Louie's
favour. But still the money hasn't been returned, and it's very much
crunch time at the hotel. If he doesn't pay the money he borrowed,
the business I don't think will be here for long. The staff will lose
their jobs, and the city would lose something we're proud of. The debt
has left the business and Joseph Louie with a serious cash-flow
crisis. It should've been an invoice paid on Monday, and I
phoned this morning, they say it's been paid, but it's not. I'm in
It gets to the point that you really need to chase people for
�6,000. This is a few million pounds business here, it shouldn't
be the case. For receiver Ian Walker, businesses
with bad debts are a familiar story. If they don't get paid, they can't
pay their wages and eventually they will fail, unless they've got
security to enable a bank to lend them more money to see them through
those cash flow difficulties. But increasingly nowadays we're seeing
that businesses have been struggling for so long they've
completely lost all personal wealth. There is nowhere else they can give
security to the banks from. With the recession, we've had more
cases coming our way. But potentially they're not as easy to
collect on. We've had the last of the money people had, I think, over
the last year or so, and it's getting progressively harder and
harder. Before Lawrence and Kevin sort out
hotelier Joseph Louie's missing money, they're back on the road in
search of more missing debts. are off to a garage. They're off to
a car dealer who has not refunded an unhappy customer's money. Nine
months ago, Martin Chapel bought a pickup truck to start a gardening
business. He returned it to the garage because it was faulty, and
that's where it's been ever since. And Mr Chapel has yet to receive
his refund. I paid �6,000 which, to a lot of people, may not be much,
but it is a lot to me and there's a big principle at stake. It is a
principle that Lawrence and Kevin want to uphold with the garage boss.
I'll show some ID. I'm a High Court enforcement officer. Right, OK.
That's the writ as it stands at the moment. 7,906.08 we're looking for.
Or else we remove assets. Of which I can see you've got plenty!
you'd be so kind as to leave our premises, gentlemen.
After 15 minutes and a quick trip to the bank, it's all sorted.
Martin Chapel will get his refund. Paid in full. It was just a case of
getting the funds. They knew they had the debt, weren't particularly
happy, but when you've got this much stock on your forecourt, what
choice have you got? Another successful job. Later, the garage
told us that senior management had not been made aware of the
situation and that, if they had, it would have been dealt with long
before the bailiffs were called in. It's now time to help Joseph Louie
recover his �160,000. Lawrence and Kevin head to the home of Joseph's
ex-business partner, Paul Chapman. He lives in a luxury property. The
bailiffs hope Mr Chapman, a former Plymouth Argyle footballer, is in.
Hello there, looking for a Paul Chapman. I'm sorry, he's not here.
Would you be Mrs Chapman, by any chance? No. I'm the cleaner here.
Are you able to get Mr Chapman on the phone at all?
But the lady at the door is not going to let them in. She told us
she was the cleaner. She was very smart and she was on the house
phone, as well. So I'm not entirely convinced by that. But I think it's
fairly safe to say we're not going to gain peaceful entry. I'll have a
look round the back and see what's to be seen. As Lawrence and Kevin
note any items of value that could be seized, Mr Chapman's cleaner
reappears. OK, I'll come and speak to you. We really need to speak to
Mr Chapman to get this sorted out. We're here today to remove goods
from the premises. You're here to remove...? What on earth for?
Because we're enforcing a High Court writ. For? I can't give you
any details, but basically we've been sent here today to enforce a
High Court writ which orders us to remove goods from the premises. So
we really need to speak to Mr Chapman. Well, I'm not discussing
this because this is scaring me stupid. I'm only here to do a job,
I'm sorry. Right. We're not here to scare you. Unfortunately, we're not
going because we have a writ to be here. I'm not giving... What we're
asking you to do... I don't know why I'm even speaking to you.
we're asking you to do... Would you please go away and come back
another time? No. You've just told me you can contact Mr Chapman.
I didn't. Yes, you did. You'll have Lady's refusing to speak to us.
She's asking us to leave, we've refused because we've every right
to be here, and that's where it stands at the moment. So we'll see
what happens. Hopefully either the police or Mr Chapman will turn up.
After 20 minutes, he arrives. Chapman? Mr Grix. I'll show you
some ID. What are the cameras doing? They're just following us
around for the day. Lawrence makes some checks. He wants to know if
there's anything he can legitimately seize to help Joseph
Louie recover his cash. Mr Chapman says he's borderline bankrupt. If
somebody wants to make him bankrupt, he will be bankrupt. His business
is gone. Everything's gone, basically. The house is on the
market, the cars both belong to the lady inside, he's just gone off to
get proof of that now. On the face of it, he actually seems quite
genuine. But we do take that with a pinch of salt, we don't take
anything for granted. In the end, it turns out that Mr
Chapman's cleaner is also his partner. But as most seizable
assets seem to be hers, it's not a good day for the repo men. Across
the bay, in view of their luxurious pad, Joseph will just have to wait
for his money. I can see my business partner's palace, where
he's living in luxury and I'm struggling. But I will see my money
regardless. I will. After the bailiffs' visit, the
builder whose car was clamped has been paying his debt in monthly
instalments. Martin Chapel got his money back and his gardening
business is blooming. But, as for Joseph, he's still waiting. His
former business partner, Mr Chapman, has subsequently been declared
bankrupt. And, if nothing else, Joseph has learned an unfortunate
lesson. Don't be a me, don't be so stupid and trusting. But at the
same time, I hope I don't have to change. It has got to be trust
somehow, but not too trusting. Finally tonight, the humble
hedgehog. A couple of facts for you, they are immune to adder venom, and
a baby hedgehog is called a hoglet. But whilst our native species might
be on its back foot, a rather more exotic version is doing well.
Here's Jane Goddard. New patients arrive at the Hedgehog
Hospital in Buckinghamshire. They haven't got any teeth yet. They're
about 10, 11 days. The eyes open at two weeks. Les Stoker, who founded
Tiggywinkles over 30 years ago, is worried. Over the last half-century,
he's seen the numbers of native hedgehogs fall from 5 million to
just 1 million. We take in 3,000 hedgehogs a year, but I know they
are going down in numbers. In the countryside, there are no hedgehogs
anymore because of farming practices. So hedgehogs are now
moving into gardens and nature reserves. So that 1 million are
living in gardens. Thank God they've somewhere to go. So every
rescue hedgehog that Les and his team nurses back to health is a
bonus for what is fast becoming a threatened species. Once they're
weaned, we treat them as wild animals. They don't get handled at
all, just for their medical checks. Most of the time they get on with
it as a wild animal. So they're roaming around your grounds? They
go into pens, yeah, then they get released. This is a little hedgehog
we've had in for about three weeks. It's a very common injury that we
get. They've been caught by a dog, and it's bitten a big hole and it
gets very infected and all that skin breaks down. In the operating
theatre, resident vet Clare Campbell is tending to a very poor
animal. What we will do is give it a really, really good clean and
then we pack it with honey, manuka honey, which has really good
healing power. It cleans out the horrible, disgusting tissue that is
growing and allows new tissue to go through it. The injured hedgehog
must be sedated before any treatment can be given. While this
is done, I'm given the unenviable task of helping a hoglet go to the
loo. Normally the mother would lick the baby...? To stimulate them to
wee. If this little critter doesn't learn, he simply won't survive.
can see it dripping on the towel. Yes, I would call that a result.
And the thing to remember, because some people might be thinking this
is a lot of work for a little creature, but this is a species
which is in decline? It is a species which is in decline, so you
put the effort in. But this hedgehog has met the general public,
has met people, and has come off worse the wear for it. We'll never
redress all the balance, but if we can do our best.
So while our native British hedgehog might be struggling,
there's another kind which is definitely on the rise. This is a
hedgehog show, and taking centre stage and apparently growing in
popularity, a hybrid - the African pygmy hedgehog. What are they like
as pets? They're fine, really nice. Not too spiky? No, they put the
spikes down for you so you can stroke them. I've always loved
hedgehogs, so I just bought a couple about two years ago. Do you
think they are a good pet? For me, because I work through the day and
they're nocturnal, so that's good for me. What's the attraction?
They're just really friendly and cute and lovable. What's his name?
Lester. The African pygmy hedgehog, like lots of pygmy pets, is
expensive, often costing well over �150. But that doesn't stop some
owners giving them up. They're wild hedgehogs, that's the whole point.
Les is seeing more and more of these animals abandoned and brought
to his hospital. Ow! You joking? just bit me! Are you joking?
There's a wound! He's hissing. him up, turn him over. This is the
must-have pet, African pygmy hedgehog, perfect pet for a little
girl. Look at it, cute, Mrs Tiggywinkle. Beatrix Potter had one.
Not one of these. See the state of my fingers? Your little girl of 12,
he comes along, he will bite the skin and make her bleed. You don't
want to give your kid a... Ohh! What?! It did, it bit me! I wasn't
putting that on, it bit me! At the show, owners say their pets
have been specially bred to be domesticated. But even they admit
they're not your average animal. Think carefully before you buy a
hedgehog because it's not a pet to have for a few weeks. It's for a
lifetime, so you need to care for them properly. They don't require
much care, but you've got to offer the right care. Today there are
going to be prizes for the best in show hedgehogs. Most of it's on
health, temperament, what the hedgehog looks like, perfect ears
and things like that. We can drop a few points to decide the winner so
they all don't win. Some people argue it's the ideal pet, it's
nocturnal, I can be out all day at work, come home, play with my
hedgehog? Just like this! But... You can't play with it, it's an
animal! You can't play with an animal. Dogs and cats have been
bred in captivity for 10,000 years. This guy has been bred in captivity,
but they've had 10 years to get used to being domesticated. They're
not designed to be domesticated animals, and they don't want to be
domesticated animals. And it's simple as that. They don't enjoy
being a pet. Are you saying that a wild native British hedgehog
wouldn't behave like this or would? It would behave like this. One of
my great worries is that, they sell these for �150 each, which is a lot
of money in these times. What worries me is people are going to
go outside and pick up a British hedgehog which doesn't cost them
anything and keep that in captivity. And it shouldn't be. Picking up
British hedgehogs, we're just going to run out of hedgehogs.
Back at the hedgehog show, tensions are rising. Can I just make a point
here that hedgehogs should not actually be kept on hay or straw.
I'll have a word with the person who it is later. It can get wrapped
around their paws and cut circulation off, so it's not a good
substrate to use. And what does it feel like when you're watching them
judging, picking your hedgehog up? It's scary because I've never done
this before, I'm new to it. winners of the females under five
And if there were any children watching, what advice would you
have about if they were going to get a hedgehog? A really sensible
bit of advice? Hold them every day at least to make them used to you.
What do you think about people who get one and then give up? You've
got to keep trying, it's not very fair. You've got to keep trying.
the operating theatre, with his cuts cleaned and dressed with honey,
the victim of the dog bite is coming round from the anaesthetic.
He's all right? There we go! A bit sleepy, we'll pop you back in your
cage. Hedgehogs have always been one of our most popular mammals,
and that popularity helps generate funds for Les at the hospital. But
he feels that having them as pets and keeping them at home is just a
step too far. Before all these fads, they had canaries in cages, little
canary cages, and goldfish in bowls. Inhumane. Him in a cage is inhumane.
He wants to walk two miles a night. And that's just about it for this
week. Don't forget the e-mail, [email protected] I'll see you
next time. A licence to make money. �564.
3680. -- �680. The South's controversial car clamper.
Are you Mr White? How can you justify 600 quid? Disgusting, the