Birmingham commits to Councils For Fair Tax declaration

Published: Monday, 7th June 2021

Birmingham City Council joins a growing movement of cities, towns and districts standing up for responsible tax conduct.

Council leaders have agreed to approve the Fair Tax Foundation’s Councils for Fair Tax Declaration. The council joins authorities in Oxford, Oldham, Peterborough, Cannock Chase, Bingley, Greenwich, Lincoln, Trafford, Sunderland, South Tyneside and Seaton Valley and is the thirteenth council to adopt the initiative.

The Declaration commits cities, towns and districts to pursuing exemplary tax conduct in their affairs, requiring greater transparency from suppliers and joining calls for more meaningful powers to tackle tax avoidance amongst suppliers when buying goods and services. Birmingham, the largest local authority in the UK, has committed to fair tax practices and the Declaration is scheduled to be formally adopted by Cabinet in September.

The announcement comes during Fair Tax Week, the UK-wide recognition of the companies and organisations that are proud to promote responsible tax conduct and pay their fair share of tax.

Cllr Tristan Chatfield, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “As an organisation with an annual budget in excess of £3billion it is important that we lead by example and sign up to the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.

“Everyone needs to pay their fair share – especially as we begin to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic which has placed public spending under such intense pressure and the many challenges this presents for our essential frontline services.

“As a council we have to do our bit too. Through the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility, our adoption of the Real Living Wage back in 2012 and support for initiatives like Fairtrade, we have shown that we stand up for responsible conduct and hope that other organisations and individuals share those values for the greater good of the city. Fair tax is absolutely a part of this.”

Polling* commissioned from ICM by the Fair Tax Foundation found that two-thirds (62 per cent) 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 Birmingham City 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; 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.

Rachel Bentley, Associate Director at CLES, the national organisation for local economies, said: “We are really pleased to hear that Birmingham City Council is joining other pioneering local authorities in approving the Fair Tax Foundation’s Councils for Fair Tax Declaration. Everyone has a part to play in promoting responsible tax conduct but municipalities can use their considerable influence on contractors, asset-holders and suppliers to drive meaningful change. The fact that two-thirds of the public agree that councils should consider the tax conduct of companies they buy from underlines the fact that better tax conduct and greater transparency strengthens our local economies and benefits local communities. We look forward to more localities following Birmingham City Council’s lead.”

The Fair Tax Foundation is running a lunchtime webinar on Wednesday 9 June ‘Local areas standing up for fair tax’ for anyone wanting to find out more about the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.

More information and the full text of the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration

Background notes

*2020 polling (2020 ICM Omnibus: a nationally representative omnibus survey of c.2,000 adults across GB between 15 and 17 May 2020) commissioned by the Fair Tax Foundation from ICM.

The Fair Tax Foundation operates as a not-for-profit social enterprise and believes that companies paying tax responsibly should be celebrated, and any race to the bottom resisted. The Fair Tax Mark certification scheme was launched in February 2014 and seeks to encourage and recognise organisations that pay the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place. Tax contributions are a key part of the wider social and economic contribution made by business, helping the communities in which they operate to deliver valuable public services and build the infrastructure that paves the way for growth. More than sixty businesses have now been certified, including FTSE-listed PLCs, co-operatives, social enterprises and large private business – which between them have over 7,000 offices and outlets. A suite of global accreditation standards will be rolled out in the second half of 2021. Other initiatives include Fair Tax Week and the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.

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