Councillors agreed to approve the Fair Tax Foundation’s “Councils for Fair Tax” Declaration, at a meeting of the Full Council on Wednesday evening (22 September).
The declaration commits cities, towns and districts to pursuing exemplary tax conduct in their affairs, require greater transparency from suppliers and join calls for more meaningful powers to tackle tax avoidance amongst suppliers when buying goods and services.
Lambeth is the 15th UK council – and the second in London – to support the declaration. It joins authorities in Oxford, Oldham, Peterborough, Cannock Chase, Bingley, Greenwich, Lincoln, Trafford, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Seaton Valley, Birmingham and North Tyneside as adopters of the initiative.
The Fair Tax Foundation has developed the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration in collaboration with UK cities, towns and districts who believe that they can and should stand up for responsible tax conduct – doing what they can within existing frameworks and pledging to do more if given the opportunity, as active supporters of tax justice.
Word from the Cabinet
Andy Wilson, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Finance and Investment, said: “Lambeth’s Responsible Procurement Policy ensures that the council secures the best value for money and highest quality of services for our residents, and requires our contracted services pay the London Living Wage as a minimum.
“But, as an organisation with an annual budget of more than £1bn, it’s vital that we lead by example and sign up to the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.
“Research shows that billions of pounds from UK public procurement contracts are won by businesses with connections to a tax haven. As we struggle with the after-effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and continuing cuts in public spending – and the challenges this presents to crucial frontline services – everyone needs to pay their fair share.
“We want to make clear that Lambeth strongly supports the principles of fair tax and expects all contractors to transparently meet their tax obligations.”
Polling commissioned from ICM by the Fair Tax Foundation found that two-thirds (62%) of the public agree that the Government and local councils should consider a company’s ethics and how they pay their tax as well as value for money and quality of service provided, when undertaking procurement.
Mary Patel, Networks Manager at the Fair Tax Foundation said: “We’re delighted that Lambeth Council is standing up for responsible tax conduct by approving the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.
“As recipients of significant public funding, it is right that municipalities should take the lead in the promotion of exemplary tax conduct; be that by asking contractors to be more transparent about their profits and who owns them, or by refusing to go along with offshore tax dodging when buying land and property. Where councils hold substantive stakes in private enterprises, then influence should be wielded to ensure that such businesses are exemplars of tax transparency and tax avoidance is shunned.
“At the Fair Tax Foundation, we believe that ‘good’ tax conduct should be a core public procurement consideration. Not only because it helps level the playing field for competing suppliers and bolsters the national corporate tax take, but it also enables better identification and mitigation of financial and corruption risks by contracting authorities.”