MEDIA RELEASE FROM FAIR TAX MARK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY 20th February 2014
WORLD'S FIRST FAIR TAX MARK LAUNCHED WITH PIONEER BUSINESSES AND BACKING OF MARGARET HODGE MP, CHAIR OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
The campaign for a more responsible approach to tax by business takes a decisive step forward today with Midcounties Co-operative, Unity Trust Bank and The Phone Co-op becoming the first businesses to be accredited by the new Fair Tax Mark, the world's first independent accreditation scheme to address the issue of responsible tax.
The Mark, which has been developed by a team of tax justice campaigners and tax experts shows that a company is making a genuine effort to be open and transparent about its tax affairs and pays the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place.
The accreditation of the Fair Tax Mark pioneer companies comes at a time when recent polling from the Institute for Business Ethics has found that corporate tax avoidance is now the number one concern of the public when it comes to business conduct.
Margaret Hodge MP, and Chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said:
“I think this is a fantastic idea. The reaction to the revelations about the tax practices of big names like Starbucks, Amazon and Google shows that this is an issue the public really cares about. Given the choice, many people would prefer to give their custom to a responsible business that does the right thing and pays its fair share of tax.”
“The Fair Tax Mark helps give them the power to make that choice, and seeing customers vote with their feet is perhaps the most effective deterrent there is to companies engaging in tax avoidance or other irresponsible practices."
Richard Murphy, a tax justice campaigner and one of the founders of the Fair Tax Mark said:
"Around the world and here in the UK people are now aware that many big businesses routinely fail to pay the taxes they really owe. What they now want to do is spend their money with those companies who are doing the right thing by seeking to pay the fair tax that they owe in the right place at the right time.”
“The Fair Tax Mark is designed to allow consumers to identify those businesses who are paying their fair share of tax. This makes the Mark the next step in the campaign for tax justice."
Current estimates suggest that whilst the public sector budget is being slashed, corporate tax avoidance in the UK is currently running at £12 billion every year, a sum which would fund the training of almost half a million midwives and pay the salaries of half a million teachers for a year.
Ben Reid, Chief Executive of Midcounties Co-operative said:
"Midcounties Co-operative is proud to be a pioneer of the Fair Tax Mark. Last year we contributed the equivalent of 15% of our profits to charitable causes and it makes no sense for us to undermine this by engaging in aggressive tax avoidance schemes even when to do so would be legal.”
“Twenty years ago co-operative enterprises were front and centre to the launch and roll-out of the Fairtrade Mark, which is now the best recognised ethical certification scheme in the UK. I look forward to the Fair Tax Mark enjoying equal success in the years to come."
Richard Wilcox, Managing Director of Unity Trust Bank said:
"We are delighted to be the first bank in the UK to receive the Fair Tax Mark accreditation. As a socially responsible bank, Unity seeks to be transparent in all that we do and matters of taxation are no different.
“Established as a bank to promote the common good, we believe a fair tax system is vital for society to thrive. Businesses have a duty to pay a fair share and to invest in the UK economy and society as a whole."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1 The Fair Tax Mark is progressing as a non-profit social enterprise that brings together ethical consumers and businesses by bridging the gap between corporate responsibility and the wider tax justice movement.
Its core business is the Fair Tax Mark, an accreditation scheme that awards the Mark to companies that are making a genuine effort to be open and transparent about their tax affairs and pay the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place.
The Fair Tax Mark aims to make the tax practices of companies trading in the UK more transparent, to increase the pressure for the overdue reform of tax laws and to encourage consumers to support companies that are good taxpayers.
The Mark is managed by Ethical Consumer from its Manchester offices.
2 A high-quality copy of the Fair Tax Mark logo is available upon request.
3 For more information visit the Fair Tax Mark Website: www.fairtaxmark.net
4 Midcounties Co-operative is the largest independent co-operative society in the UK with sales of over £1 billion. It operates a range of businesses in Food, Travel, Pharmacy, Funeral, Childcare, Energy, Post Offices and Flexible Benefits. Its heartlands are in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. However, it trades in the surrounding counties and Energy, Childcare, Travel and Flexible Benefits businesses trade across the UK.
Unity Trust Bank is a specialist bank for organisations in the social economy providing day-to-day banking and much needed affordable finance to civil society organisations including charities, social enterprises community and voluntary organisations, CDFIs, councils and trade unions across the UK. Unity promotes a socially responsible and sustainable approach to banking and lending, and aims to create positive social change through our business activity. Unity is a Living Wage accredited employer – the first British bank to achieve that recognition.
The Phone Co-op operates nationwide, providing fixed and mobile telecommunications services to over 23,000 residential and business customers, including other co-operatives, charities and third sector organisations. The Phone Co-op operates a policy of fair and transparent pricing with no hidden charges, and is committed to giving customers the best possible service, while still promoting the well being of people and communities and minimising its impact on the environment.
Vivian Woodell, founder and CEO of The Phone Co-op, said:
"The Phone Co-op is proud to sign up to the Fair Tax Mark because we believe that it represents a significant step forward in the campaign to ensure that every business pays its fair share of tax. Too many businesses in our industry use aggressive tax schemes to reduce the amount of tax they pay.”
“As well as being unfair competition for businesses like The Phone Co-op which want topay our fair share, this behaviour results in underfunded public services on which we all depend. The fact that The Phone Co-op is owned by its customers rather than by investors brings this issue into sharp focus and is a key reason why we are supporting the Fair Tax Mark.”