In January 2016, in partnership with Christian Aid, we launched the Sourced campaign … and we won!
What’s the campaign about?
Sourced is about using ‘sourcing’ processes – where local councils choose which businesses to use for goods and services – to encourage fair tax practices.
What do local councils have to do with fair tax?
Councils in England alone spend £45 billion a year buying goods and services from companies. They choose who gets the contracts, which means they’re a powerful force to encourage fair tax practices. They can tell businesses how they should behave – and make sure the money goes to those doing the right thing.
That’s why, with the support of the Joffe Charitable Trust, we pushed councils to ask companies to account for their past tax record when they bid for contracts.
Tax can be a complex issue for businesses to understand and that’s why as part of the campaign, participating councils used the Fair Tax Mark as an example of how to do the right thing. We developed our criteria over a year-long pilot and it’s the only ‘fair tax’ benchmark out there for businesses.
Councils listened to our campaign…
In November, we reported that the campaign had been wonderfully well received, with councils across the country not only debating the issue, but making substantive changes to their procurement procedures.
Everywhere from Manchester City Council through to Durham County Council and the London boroughs of Southwark and Lewisham took steps towards fair tax procurement. The volume of activity had been truly amazing, as was the political breadth of the councillors that had tabled motions, including Labour, Co-operative, Green, Liberal Democrat and Conservative elected representatives.
And then the government listened too…
The government has now issued a new requirement on all councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland which stipulates that they must question potential suppliers on any recent history of tax evasion and avoidance.
This brings local government procurement in line with national government guidelines, and is precisely what we were pushing for when we launched our campaign with Christian Aid back in January 2016.
But the campaign’s not over…
Requirements like these often take years to filter through and, even when they do, they’re often badly implemented. So the next phase of this campaign will see us pushing councils to really use this new power. We’ll ask them to report on how they’re doing it and we’ll be keeping a close eye to ensure fair tax businesses are rewarded for their commitments.
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