Fair Tax Councils takes off big time

In just one month, four councils representing major cities and towns across the UK from Scotland to the South of England have signed up to our Councils for Fair Tax Declaration. South Lanarkshire, Preston, Reading and Southwark are the latest to stand up for responsible tax conduct, with 24 local authorities now on board.

Public demand

It comes on the back of a wave of action from local residents, who have sent over 15,000 emails to councillors asking them to back fair tax via an easy-to-use new campaign tool launched with our friends at Tax Justice UK.

This public demand is reflected in recent IBE data, which saw ‘corporate tax avoidance’ topping the UK public’s list of concerns for a record 10th consecutive year, and our own polling saw voters from across the political spectrum wanting to see councils back ethical procurement and reward businesses paying their fair share of tax.

Fair tax gets cross-party support

And it’s not just the public – this surge of support from councils comes with unanimous backing from members of all major political parties, with Labour and Co-operative, Labour, Lib Dem, Conservative, Green and SNP councillors all saying ‘yes’ to fair tax.

Backing responsible businesses that pay their fair share of tax is rightly emerging as clear common ground in an ever-divisive political landscape.

Paul Hebden, Acting Executive Director at Tax Justice UK, said: “Regardless of what’s happening at Westminster, it’s great to see the cause of tax justice winning at a local level.”

What the councils say about fair tax

“Responsible tax conduct benefits everyone by strengthening our public services with much-needed funds. Everyone needs to pay their fair share, especially now when public spending is under such intense pressure – and [given] the challenges this presents to the maintenance of crucial frontline services and tackling poverty in Preston.” – Cllr Valerie Wise, Preston City Council

Reading Borough Council councillors standing in front of council sign and holding Councils for Fair Tax printed logos

Cllr Alice Mpofu-Coles, Reading Borough Council

“The UK has £17 billion per annum in lost corporation tax revenue. In 2019-20 in Reading East, 5,072 children were in poverty, and in Reading West, 6,267 children were in poverty. As a Council, we should call upon the current Government to push for a robust procurement law that does not continue to benefit those who are rich and leaves the rest struggling to be able to meet their needs.”- Cllr Alice Mpofu-Coles, Reading Borough Council.

“I believe in a Southwark where everyone contributes what they can, including businesses…I would advocate that we only deal with companies who have the same ethos. We are proud to be the 24th council to sign the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.” – Cllr Kath Whittam, Southwark Labour

“We are delighted that Southwark Council has adopted the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration on a bi-partisan basis. There is clear evidence out there that shows the majority of the public care about businesses paying fair tax, which helps fund vital services like the NHS. It’s common sense, then, that councils should lead the way locally by promoting excellent tax conduct and transparency in their own affairs, and encourage such behaviour from business partners.” – Cllr Rachel Bentley, Southwark Liberal Democrat.

Councillor Fagan holding Councils for Fair Tax foam board standing outside

Joe Fagan, South Lanarkshire Council

“I am pleased that my colleagues agreed to support this motion today. As a council, we will also promote Fair Tax Mark certification for any business in which it has a significant stake and where corporation tax is due. We will also support calls for urgent reform of UK and Scots law to enable municipalities to revise their procurement policies and better penalise poor tax conduct and reward good tax conduct.” – Joe Fagan, South Lanarkshire Council.

Councils should be allowed to do more to reward businesses that pay their fair share of tax

All this comes at a time when the UK Government is rewriting the rules that say how public bodies, from local councils to the NHS, can buy goods and services from supplier businesses.

Fair Tax Councils back our calls for urgent reform of this law to enable local authorities to better reward good tax conduct and penalise poor tax conduct through their procurement policies.

We have set out what Government should do to better reward responsible tax conduct and help drive out corruption via public procurement.

How to support fair tax as a local resident or councillor

If you’re a resident, take a look at which councils support fair tax so far, then email your councillor to take fair tax action via the Tax Justice UK campaign tool.

If you’re a councillor, you can find out more about the process and download the Sample Motion and Declaration on our website.