How Greens can be a catalyst for fair tax

“It commits us as a council to leading by example: making sure that our own tax conduct is the best it can be.” Cllr David Francis explains why he has signed South Tyneside up to the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.

Cllr David Francis
David Francis

I’m proud to pay my fair share of tax because taxation pays for so many of the things that benefit our communities. The last year has seen us living through a time of national and international crisis and it’s at times like this you really see the value of our public services. But all of those things rely on taxation and adequate funding so that they’re there when people need them.

At the end of February, I proposed a motion in support of the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration. The Declaration was developed by the Fair Tax Foundation as a way for local government to take meaningful action on tax justice. It commits us as a council to leading by example: making sure that our own tax conduct is the best it can be by not offshoring the purchase of land and property, requiring greater transparency from suppliers and joining calls for more meaningful powers to tackle tax avoidance amongst supplier businesses.

Twelve local councils have shown significant support for fair tax and I’m really pleased to say that here in South Tyneside the motion received unanimous support. With Fair Tax Week coming up from 5-13 June I’d really encourage other Green councillors to come on board. Greens have successfully proposed motions in support of the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration in Sunderland and Cannock Chase, and voted in favour in other local areas too.

This is about doing what we can, now, to celebrate and encourage responsible tax practice. As it was in South Tyneside, this should be something we can work on across political divides to help rebuild our economy and society from the impact of Covid-19. Tax Justice UK recently pointed out that the UK may be lagging behind others in tackling corporate tax dodging. Elected Greens are in a position to take a lead on this now, at local government level.

We’ve seen what Green councillors have achieved locally by pushing forward positive action on big, systemic issues like climate change. This is a similar approach – a local solution to counter the narrative of tax dodging, and the way that corporation tax is often presented as a burden. This is about local places playing their role in achieving tax justice, standing alongside responsible businesses that are proud to pay their fair share of tax. Over 60 have now been certified to the Fair Tax Mark, including FTSE-listed PLCs, co-operatives, social enterprises and large private businesses.

Given the tough trading conditions many organisations have endured during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has never been more important to highlight and celebrate those businesses doing the right thing.

If you’d like to find out more about the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration, the Fair Tax Foundation is running a webinar on ‘Local areas standing up for fair tax’ on Wednesday 9 June at 1pm as part of Fair Tax Week. Or you can visit the Fair Tax Foundation’s website where you can download a copy of the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration and a sample motion.

Caroline Lucas MP is chairing a webinar on ‘Climate and tax justice: time to act?’ on Thursday 10 June at 1pm, organised by Tax Justice UK and Green Alliance.

Fair Tax Week 2021 runs from 5-13 June and is a celebration of the companies and councils that are proud to promote responsible tax conduct and pay their fair share of tax. Using #CelebratingFair, the week will provide a platform to explore the positive contribution tax makes to society.