Cooperatives UK have issued the following press release that I am pleased to share:
The UK co-operative sector, worth £37 billion to the British economy, has agreed a partnership with the Fair Tax Mark, an initiative that enables businesses to demonstrate to consumers that they deal with tax transparently and fairly.
In the context of tax avoidance by large companies such as Starbucks and Amazon — which research confirms is the public’s number one concern about business behaviour1 — the commitment from this sizable sector is of significance.
A number of pioneering co-operatives signed up to the Fair Tax Mark when it was launched last year. These include Midcounties Co-operative, which runs retail, energy, travel and funeral businesses and turns over £1 billion a year and made £22 million in operating profit during its last financial year; and the Phone Co-op,-a fast growing home and broadband co-operative founded 16 years ago, now turning over £11 million.
It was agreed at the co-operative sector’s annual conference that it would forge stronger links with the Fair Tax Mark. A formal partnership between the Mark and Co-operatives UK, the network for Britain’s thousands of co-operative businesses, will be announced at an event for leaders of the largest retail co-operatives in the UK taking place this weekend, the National Retail Consumer Conference.
As part of the partnership, co-operatives across country will be provided with a set of voluntary guidelines and be supported in adopting the Fair Tax Mark if they choose to.
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said:
“Tax avoidance is the number one public issue today and what the Fair Tax Mark offers customers is a way to judge where they spend their money. With tax income tight and austerity the dominant response, it would be wonderful to make fair tax the norm for large businesses over the next ten years.
“Co-operatives have always been market leaders on issues of fairness, whether it’s working hours, Fairtrade or ethical investment practices. As home-grown businesses, not a single co-operative we know of has engaged in aggressive tax avoidance. That’s why we are seeing the sector coming together to lead the way on fair tax.”
Ben Reid, Chief Executive of Midcounties Co-operative, said:
“The Institute for Business Ethics recently found that tax avoidance is now the number one concern of the public when it comes to business conduct. As a values-led and ethical organisation, we believe that we should pay the taxes that are due and not engage in aggressive tax avoidance schemes, even if legal.”
Richard Murphy, tax campaigner and Fair Tax Mark director said:
"The UK public now think that paying fair tax is one of the most important things a business can do. They rightly expect business to pay its share, as they do. In that case to have a whole UK business sector declare its support for Fair Tax is really good news. The UK public will now know that co-ops are committed to paying their tax, and I hope they reward them with their business as a result."