11th Dec, 2016

Motion to crack down on tax dodgers goes before Solihull Council

Solihull Editorial 14th Mar, 2016 Updated: 24th Oct, 2016

A MOTION to crack down on tax dodgers in the borough has been put before Solihull Council.

Borough Christian Aid campaigners, faith groups, church-goers and Green party councillors joined forces to urge the council to adopt and send the clear message to companies bidding for council contracts that ‘if you avoid tax, we will avoid you’.

The motion, a part of a Christian Aid ‘Tax Justice’ campaign, requires the council to apply government standards to the process of bidding for council contracts, meaning companies would have to show they had not been convicted of evading tax or of using tax avoidance strategies which are now disallowed.

Coun James Burn, the leader of the opposition, said dodging taxes cost taxpayers more than £30billion a year – money which could be spent building 300,000 new council homes or funding more than a million NHS nurses.

“The time has come for Solihull Council to do its part in clamping down on companies who think dodging tax is okay,” he added.

Carol Linfield, a Knowle resident and member of the Christian Aid Group in Solihull, said people expected their council to screen out suppliers engaged in fraud, corruption and child labour and tax dodging should be added to that list.

She added this was especially true at a time when local governments were faced with so many painful cuts to frontline services.

“I remember when my son started work and received his first pay slip, he was horrified to find tax had been deducted,” she added.

“This horror was increased when he was asked for a contribution towards council tax.

“The injustice – the world he had grown up in of roads, lighting, education and health care – all had been taken for granted and the realisation they all had to be paid for.”

Mrs Linfield said at a company level the tax picture seemed to tilt with companies being set up to grow in an infrastructure where the very things which helped them thrive, like roads, trains and emergency services, were paid for by taxpayers.

“Now we area asking them to provide evidence that they pay taxes for the facilities which support their growth,” she added.

“If Solihull Council were asked tendering companies questions about their tax payments this would be one way to help curb tax dodging.”

She added tax dodging cost the UK dearly but cost developing countries up to an estimated

$300million every year in lost revenues, far more than the countries received in aid.

Mrs Linfield said those funds would be used to tackle poverty and provide essential services and grow a healthy infrastructure with good health care.

She added she had recently been to India and seen first hand the difference in having a valued and established infrastructure which had waste collections, good roads and reliable electricity supply.

“Asking companies about their tax records is the ultimate carrot on a stick – it hurts tax dodgers via the loss of lucrative contracts while incentivise those paying their fair share of tax,” Mrs Linfield said.

The Council voted to send the motion to be looked at by the audit committee.