Fair Tax Councils double since start of the year

Right across the UK, local support for fair tax has surged this year. More than 18,000 emails have been sent by residents to local councillors in every UK local authority, asking them to back fair tax practices. The campaign called on councils to pass a motion in support of our Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.

Since the start of the year, the number of Fair Tax Councils has more than doubled to 40. The latest councils to come on board are Derbyshire Dales, London councils Barnet and Hammersmith & Fulham. Support spans the whole of the UK from Edinburgh to Birmingham, Newcastle to Exeter and Northumberland to Wales.

Backing across the political spectrum

Dundee Council Councillors holding Fair Tax Councils board

This surge of support from councils comes with backing from members of all major political parties. We’ve seen cross-party support for fair tax in Derbyshire Dales, Trafford, Gateshead, Dundee, Preston, Richmond-upon-Thames and more.

Backing responsible businesses that pay their fair share of tax is rightly emerging as clear common ground. This is supported by polling conducted for Fair Tax Foundation that showed two thirds of people in the UK want to see councils back ethical procurement and reward businesses paying their fair share of tax, with support holding up across the political spectrum.

What is a Fair Tax Council?

Fair Tax Councils make a significant commitment to backing fair tax practices. Most councils have used our template Councils for Fair Tax Declaration motion which commits cities, towns and districts to doing the right thing in their own tax affairs, requiring greater transparency from suppliers and joining calls for rules to change so that they can do more to tackle tax avoidance when buying goods and services from supplier businesses. Councils including Newcastle have starting encouraging their top suppliers to go for Fair Tax Mark accreditation. Birmingham has written fair tax into its Business Charter for Social Responsibility and others such as Sunderland are putting fair tax at the heart of community wealth building.

Calling for procurement rules to change

Currently, UK procurement law makes it difficult to factor in the consideration of broad matters of ethical conduct and economic crime, such as tax avoidance and fraud. The public procurement rules being advanced by the UK government do little to meaningfully allow towns and cities to factor in the tax conduct of supplier companies and create a level playing field for responsible businesses that pay their fair share of tax.

Our growing movement of Fair Tax Councils are asking for powers to be able to factor in responsible tax conduct in contract award criteria. We’ve set out our priorities for UK public procurement reform.

Dirty money and fair tax

Adam Hug, Westminster Councillor, and Mary Patel holding Fair Tax Councils boardWestminster City Council launched a groundbreaking pledge to tackle dirty money and support fair tax earlier this year, the first authority to overtly link these two issues. The council has estimated it loses nearly £8m in business rate evasion by Oxford Street ‘American candy’ stores.

On the face of it, tackling poor tax practices and fighting dirty money might not seem obviously aligned, but they share root causes and solutions. Robust corporate transparency measures, such as beneficial ownership disclosure and full financial reporting, help reduce the risk not just of tax evasion but corruption and fraud as well. These measures are hardwired into our Fair Tax Mark for business and the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.

Want to support fair tax where you live? Visit our Councils for Fair Tax page to find out more.

We are grateful for the support of Barrow Cadbury Trust and Trust for London in connection with our localities activity.

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, three further councils have passed the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Woking Borough Council and Brent London Borough Council.