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ongoing web column by Brunella Longo

This column deals with some aspects of change management processes experienced almost in any industry impacted by the digital revolution: how to select, create, gather, manage, interpret, share data and information either because of internal and usually incremental scope - such learning, educational and re-engineering processes - or because of external forces, like mergers and acquisitions, restructuring goals, new regulations or disruptive technologies.

The title - I Changed My Mind Reviewing Everything - is a tribute to authors and scientists from different disciplinary fields that have illuminated my understanding of intentional change and decision making processes during the last thirty years, explaining how we think - or how we think about the way we think. The logo is a bit of a divertissement, from the latin divertere that means turn in separate ways.

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Is the evidence not enough?

About an application for british citizenship and a stakeholder pension

How to cite this article?
Longo, Brunella (2015). Is the evidence not enough? About an application for british citizenship and a stakeholder pension. icm2re [I Changed my Mind Reviewing Everything ISSN 2059-688X (Print)], 4.4 (April).

How to cite this article?
Longo, Brunella (2015). Is the evidence not enough? About an application for british citizenship and a stakeholder pension. icm2re [I Changed my Mind Reviewing Everything ISSN 2059-688X (Online)], 4.4 (April).

London, 25 May 2015 - In an act that I consider quite barbaric, employees at the Home Office rejected my application for citizenship submitted in 2014, just in time for not allowing me to vote at the General Election (May 2015). I paid the fee for a mandatory reconsideration that I submitted with all the notes and the references to legal requirements. This application cannot remain without an answer. The case has enough substance for a parliamentary question as well, so that I forwarded all the papers to my MP for consideration.

I have been domiciled and resident in England since 2008. In order to prevent any ambiguity connected with the domicile status (relevant in respect of tax issues) I even transferred the ownership of my italian trademarks, that would have otherwise required me unsustainable legal costs for representation in the native Country, to my mother. The number of days on which I was absent from the UK in the five years before the submission of my citizenship application was of total 27 days, mostly spent in 2010 and 2011 in order to sell a property I still owned in Italy (that should provide the money to access the mortgage for a conveyance of a flat in North London that turned out "impossible" and led me, instead, to legal proceedings ended with a bankruptcy oder) and to fix other red tape problems.

In fact, it turned out that it would be practically very costly and time consuming for an italian micro-business to operate in the UK without being resident (you cannot even open a bank account in the UK if you are not a council tax payer or you do not have a permanent address) so that I closed down everything I had in Italy to fully enjoy the opportunities of new entrepreneurial endeavours that come with the freedom of movement established by the EU Treaty.

The number of days on which I was absent from the UK in the last three years was 61 and in the period of twelve months before my application for citizenship it was zero so that there is no doubt that I satisfy all the requirements of being a permanent UK resident. I do not have another home, place or Country where to live. But perhaps it is not that simply as that.

The right to change Country

My family does not exist but for myself and various cats and dogs since the mid 1980s and a - sometimes tough sometimes tender - solidarity agreement with my mother, the close resemblance with whom could not be more deceptive as we really are like opposite planets. But I have always felt responsible for my younger two brothers, one of which suffers from Down syndrome, and helped her as I could in growing up them. In turn, I decided when I was 11-year-old I would be childless and unmarried and I would work and live to nurture the child in me that never had a proper childhood. Nature helped me in some ways.

Deciding to change Country was a very slow and for some time difficult process, a sort of a plan B devised since 2005 and put in practice in 2007-2008.

I used my savings and left the Country in 2008, when I was 45-years-old. My mother helped me as well. I will never return to Italy. And if there is a little chance that can happen, it will be in twenty or more years time and it will strongly depends on the amount of money from the over 200,000 euro lost savings that I will have recovered and returned partly into my stakeholder pension and partly to my mother, the only person on earth to whom in truth I owe money. In the meantime, my younger brother - who is an electric engineer and a true family man, father of four - has become a carer for my disabled one, easing our ageing, but still sparkling, mother's life. I left behind my two cats. I brought in England my small dog. I just wanted to work and restart my business here. It is hard to accept that I have become an immigrant, a human category that adds further pain to my identity as it really tells apart people, preventing 'us' to just part of the same society as 'them'. The only consolation is that the identity of 'them' in England is so fragmented that only a passport can really make a difference. And this is perhaps the very reason why I applied for citizenship.

I acquired the legal right to permanent residency in the UK in March 2013, more than a year before the date of my Life in the UK test and my application for citizenship. Also my National Insurance record reflects such right very clearly, documenting I have been paying NIC contributions in the UK since 2008-2009.

That means that I am equal to a British national. But what such idea of European equality really means, in the UK as well as in Continental Europe, could be a fascinating topic for sociological, philosophical or legal disputes: we, British people, do not have a written constitution and no EU rule can impose on the UK or any other EU sovereign country a duty to employ or to give public contracts to a fixed quote of EU nationals, for instance. We, European people, aspire to an integration and harmonisation of professional and business practices accordingly to common values but we have not built (nor able to enforce) the tools to strengthen and develop such values within endogenous cultures that tend, as the british one, to be ambivalent and even opportunistic towards the idea of an European single market for people.

There is no willing on the side of UK professional associations and scientific societies, for instance, to really endorse the European Qualifications Framework nor any way to force the natural predisposition of British entrepreneurs and directors to believe that a middle age woman with big boobs from a non Commonwealth country is not a midwife, nor has come here to make a paninis business or open a restaurant.

Besides the lovely epithets (duck, mole, sneak etc.) in the constant social media innuendos of my potential peers and their friends of friends - the ones with whom I almost uselessly spent thousand of pounds for seminars, networking events and continuous professional development between 2008 and 2011 - the rejection of my citizenship application triggered a new wave of mockeries and attacks to my reputation by mostly retired acquaintances with italian ties, guessing that self deprecation publicity is what really interests me and keeps me alive.

An Italian ripple in the British pond of celebrities culture

After all, I am an extrovert and optimist and I am keen on sharing my thoughts and express myself all around. What a comedian! If I really suffered of my diminished and dilapidated British destiny, I would stay silent and in pain as there isn't too much I can feed into my aspirations for a British career.

Isn't true that real experts in cyber security and those who have anything to say on cybercrime and national security things stay very well away from the internet, the twitter-sphere and the public pillories?

If you are available and want to engage with all sorts of people, it is clearly because you want to be a celebrity, don't you? And you don't care of the menaces.

The safe middle aged information management consultants do not experiment WhatsApp security threads to corporate intelligence, exposing themselves to libelous comments by Minister of Defence consultants.

They do gardening in their spare time! (by the way I could not, even if I wanted to, because I now live in a property in South London that turned out to be, as the previous one in South Hampstead, defective, where the garden was destroyed by abusive construction developers without planning permission [P.S. I was evicted from Mr Garrick 'Lost Conversion House' in November 2015]).

Such mindset - abusive, bigoted and medieval - is unfortunately very common across all social classes and the political spectrum and to be fair exists as far as I can say everywhere in Europe, as it is very bonded to the recess part of our common judaic-christian identity and the misogynist common trait the Muslim Brotherhood shares with fundamentalists of all faiths and prejudices.

Even within the Civil Service somebody might have genuinely pondered that rejecting my application for citizenship was the best way to publicise math skills and the role of foreign nationals that have the audacity to come here and want to vote, to work and to create businesses - not just fall victim of frauds and claim welfare benefits. Thanks but it is not. I do really want to have full citizenship where I live.

The rules and the maths

In the aftermath of the General Election the only immediate reply I received to the rejection of my application for Citizenship was the return of the £80 fee for the ceremony (but no return is possible for the £900 application fee).

Of course, I asked for a reconsideration sending in the FORM NR I was kindly provided with - because indeed even if it is not specified by the British Nationality Act 1981 under section 6(1) SCHEDULE 1, we do have a FORM for mandatory reconsideration of the decision to refuse an application for citizenship! We like to appear in any circumstance so... civilised.

The rules and the maths behind an application for citizenship could not be clearer. But our non written constitution and the common law culture allow the Home Office to really decide what they want, without providing any justification whatsoever. Or, even worse, they are allowed to construct and solidify post-traumatic justifications with all sorts of expedients and references that can be presented as evidence. And then lost or destroyed and then searched for years with historical interminable parliamentary enquiries. Of course, I came here to make a bit of order in such... Millennial documentary mess! I cannot expect to be welcomed without resistance.

Ten days before the General Election, civil servants with Scottish accent called me to verify my postal address in a couple of occasions. They refused to discuss the substance of the application. And neither they asked me any important question in order to better understand the data I provided and the criteria of my entitlement.

They could not talk about the merit of the application itself over the phone, I was told, not even when it was clear that they were referring to my application as it had been rejected, and even if I had not received yet any written communication about the outcome of it. This is a nasty typical Scottish way to communicate with foreign nationals they perceive as victims or competitors, pretending instead they are caring.

The impression was, overall, that my application was deliberately dismissed and at the right time, just for making a fuss, have a laugh, add a chock to the flame of the Electoral campaign in favour of the Labour attempt to extend the right to vote to teenagers. I felt myself very humiliated. For what reasons I must be treated in this way? Stupidity? Incompetence? Libel? Just cruelty against the commitment of an individual who had already acquired the right of permanent residence in the Country?

Because of the information I disclosed about the abuses of public processes I experienced or witnessed in this Country, it is not far from the truth to say that I should have been considered a model according to British values, written and not written rules. And if all the EU nationals permanently living in this Country applied for citizenship, that would be a great way to start learning about management of digital identities, effective information security, document handling and borders controls.

I asked to escalate a question: how could it happen that a Mrs M Watling got it so wrong?

The Prime Minister David Cameron visited the Home Office to launch his EU re-negotiations tour the day after my NR reconsideration form was deemed to be received. Perhaps the ducks quacks continues.

Real issues in EU-UK relationships

In the meantime, my Italian stakeholder pension turned out lost in translation. I did not anything wrong when I decided to transfer it from an Euro to a Sterlings product. Or did I?

After a couple of years of notes, letters and reminders I sent to both HMRC and the Italian fiscal authority Agenzia delle Entrate - disclosing a potentially criminal scheme not just for robbing entrepreneurial european workers that move across Europe but to engineer new money laundering ideas - it seems they are now looking into the case or I wish to think so.

It turned out that the italian fiscal authority did not find all the money the italian pension provider deducted at source from my pot before making the transfer and such omission could either qualify as error or as fiscal fraud.

In any case, it is very arguable they had the right to make such deduction: the instruction the same fiscal italian authorities had been dispatching for years are very clear on the point. And in which civilised country a private citizen would be required to pay taxes on the sale of his only property?

The 2012 decision of Judge Avent in the Central London Country Court to evict me from the property in South Hampstead that I was supposed to buy came after I had started the claim for damages against the false landlord and after I had sold the italian property and put the money in the pension fund.

Are such decisions under review and investigations, also in consideration of a number of following oddities I wrote about in other articles of this column? Are they all civil minutia and "unfortunate" matters? Will they ever be considered by the judiciary, as I have asked to?

In sum, it seems to me that on the grounds of my disastrous personal experience in the enjoyment of freedom of movement rights, Mr Cameron has indeed a case, although it may be not the one of the exploitation of the welfare system he had imagined (mostly fabricated by Scottish fantasists, UKIP and trade unionists and intertwined with solid populistic prejudices).

The PM is right when he asks to renegotiate the UK-EU relationships on the freedom of movement, but the real issues affecting EU migrants everywhere in Europe, not just in the UK, consist in the dramatic exposure of citizens to volatile promises of better work and business opportunities, red tapes failures, frauds, corporate crime, cybercrime, identity theft and inequalities that did not exist in the optimistic views of the EU funding fathers and visionaries on the free circulation of people and goods.

There is no point in crying to change the EU existing treaties and legislation related to welfare benefits in order to sort out loopholes and cultural gaps. Instead, new harmonised and enforceable rules are needed to prevent people from being trafficked and exploited by gangs of crooks at all levels, from creative recruitment agencies to government behavioural economists, and including legal and financial experts that craft articulated and sophisticated plots using all the power of deceptive technologies and diverse, often ambivalent, cultural habits and jurisdictions.

Something for nothing

A very well documented journalistic report (Revealed: thousands of Britons on benefits across EU, The Guardian, Monday 19 January 2015) ascertained that In Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, France and Ireland the number of Britons banking unemployment cheques is almost three times as high as the nationals of those countries receiving parallel UK benefits [...]

With the decisions I took in 2012 to transfer the savings of my whole working life from a qualified recognised pension scheme in Euro subscribed in Italy in 2001 into a qualified recognised pension scheme in Sterlings based in UK, passing through the inevitable savings bank account in Euro based in the UK and mis-sold to me as it was for stakeholder pensions purposes just before I was declared bankrupt in 2013, I did make something that can be perceived as insanely anomalous and risky. But actually, it was a decision carefully and confidently planned considered the international regime for pensions, even if within an uncertain framework as always happens with all sort of novelties.

Discharged from the handicap and stigma of a legally ungrounded bankruptcy, that I faced without a lawyer representing me, I could restart a business and have the freedom and the recognised legal capacity needed to complete the transfer of the stakeholder pension into a regulated scheme in sterlings, just to discover that the petitioner, the bank and one of the appointed trustees in bankruptcy had in the meantime decided that mine was not a stakeholder pension but just a savings account that could be transferred in the bankruptcy (the administration and account of which turned out to be risible as well). One of the appointed trustees left the firm soon after such decision. The bankruptcy closed with zero point zero money. Previous articles of this column tell about other appalling abuses made by the appointed trustees and the refusal of a Judge Lambert, who had made the bankruptcy order in the London Central County Court in Bankruptcy, to transfer the case for the annulment of the bankruptcy to an Upper Court.

But besides such evidences of an unethical when not unlawful ritual that reminds of medieval practices and sharia laws, the question I asked myself was: why did I decide to go ahead with the transfer of the pension even when it was clear the prospective seller of the flat, then bankrupt petitioner, was not entitled to sell?

I trusted that principles and rules on foreign tax credit relief (relief from double taxation), on repayment of taxes taken at source under the international pension scheme regime and tax relief on contributions to overseas pension schemes could all be in my favour in any case, because Great Britain is a Country that has built its identity and international reputation on the rule of law and recognition of skilled and innovative professional practices.

And I disclosed all the matters to HMRC and the Italian fiscal authority since 2011.

Above all, I trusted that even if unknown dreadful pitiful technicalities could compromise my plans, and I could not buy that flat in South Hampstead, the money would remain in my stakeholder pension - because we have in Britain principles and values of fairness that prevail on miseries.

Nobody really wins anything if I lose the right to live, to work and to have my stakeholder pension transferred here from another European Country whereas we all have to fight new, unbelievable cross party battles for equality and democracy. That starts with the right to vote where you live.