A Manchester councillor has accused half the British Cabinet of tax avoidance during a council meeting this week.
The accusation was made by Labour councillor Rebecca Moore during a Manchester City Council economy scrutiny committee on Wednesday.
Her comments were in response to suggestions the council would try to lobby government to close tax loopholes that allow companies to avoid paying tax.
Ms Moore, councillor for Withington, said: “It is pretty hard to lobby a national government when it is something that half of the cabinet is doing.”
The meeting was convened in response to a report put forward by Eddie Smith, strategic director, concerning the issue of tax avoidance.
The report concluded that as the tax collection system is nationally administered, local authorities have limited opportunities to directly influence the behaviour of multinational companies.
Ms Moore told MM: “It is despicable that the government demonise working people but over £12billion annually is lost in unpaid revenue.
“We want to try to lobby other Greater Manchester councils. If Greater Manchester were to adopt this we would have more influence on government.”
Currently, Stockport and Rochdale are the only Greater Manchester authorities to have considered the issue at full council.
“I do not think it is impossible to get laws passed when the Conservatives are in power but it is definitely more difficult to pass things on tax avoidance,” she said.
“We can … [refuse to] work with multi-nationals or big corporations who avoid tax and we can raise awareness of the issue.”
Political activism organisation ActionAid set up Towns Against Tax Dodging (here) to raise the profile of corporate tax avoidance both within the UK and internationally.
The broad aim of the campaign is for the UK government to play a lead role in creating a fairer tax system.
In 2012 The Guardian reported that David Cameron’s father ran a network of offshore investment funds to help build the family fortune that paid for the Prime Minister’s inheritance.
The funds were set up in tax havens such as Panama City and Geneva, and explicitly boasted their ability to remain outside UK tax jurisdiction – though they were perfectly legal.
Former minister Andrew Mitchell, of the ‘plebgate’ scandal, was claimed to have put money into an ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ company.
The motion was passed in the committee and a meeting is now to be convened to discuss the issue with the members who brought it forward.
Image courtesy of James Cridland and Rebecca Moore, with thanks