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Councils agree to probe suppliers about tax after Christian Aid campaign

25 November 2016

iSTOCK

A GROWING number of councils are asking probing questions about the tax practices of their suppliers, as a result of a campaign by Christian Aid which seeks to clamp down on tax avoidance.

Councils including Manchester, Oxford, and Southwark have agreed to ask a range of questions about the tax history of firms that seek to win large contracts with them.

Other councils, including Birmingham, Northumberland, and Gateshead are considering adopting a tougher stance as a result of Christian Aid’s Sourced campaign.

The charity’s senior public-advocacy adviser, Helen Collinson, said: “At a time when public services are squeezed, and evidence keeps emerging of certain multinationals not paying tax, it makes total sense for councils to ensure valuable council contracts go to firms that have played fair.”

Council contracts in England alone are worth a total of about £45 billion a year, and cover everything from road maintenance, building, and health care to gas, electricity, and insurance.

The law already requires local councils to ask potential suppliers whether they have been prosecuted for tax evasion, which is illegal. The campaign Sourced encourages councils to ask potential suppliers more detailed questions about their tax affairs.

Companies bidding for central government contracts of more than £5 million already have to answer more detailed questions, but other public bodies, including local councils, can choose whether to ask them.

Ms Collinson said that the campaign had encouraged councils to think about how they could influence the tax practices of multinational companies.

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