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Letter: Councils sign up to Christian Aid 'Sourced' campaign

Date published: 05 February 2017


Dear Editor,

Councils in England spend £45bn a year buying goods and services, that's why big companies need to know that tax dodging overseas won't be overlooked by local councils in their procurement policies.

In response to Christian Aid’s 'Sourced' campaign, more than 1,000 campaigners in England and Northern Ireland contacted their local councillors to ask them to adopt this optional policy. Their actions prompted more than 60 councils to seriously consider incorporating these more far-reaching tax questions into their procurement procedures.

A year ago local campaigners emailed and lobbied every single councillor in Rochdale Council to ask them to sign up to the national campaign, for example:

http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/news-features/129/letters-to-the-editor/100785/letter-time-for-rochdale-council-to-make-a-public-stand-against-tax-dodging

Campaigners simply asked councils to introduce a central government policy that was already optional for other public bodies, including councils. That policy is about getting companies who bid for public contracts to provide more detailed information about their past tax records, including any investigations for ‘incorrect’ tax practices.

It would be brilliant if Rochdale Council could follow the inspiring lead of their colleagues who decided to make the change Christian Aid suggested to their procurement policies.

These included large city councils such as Manchester, Salford, Birmingham and Belfast.

The decision of the Northern Ireland Assembly to follow suit in the summer of 2016 was a high point of the campaign.

In some councils, local Christian Aid campaigners were able to address council meetings directly and talk from the heart about what tax dodging means for the world’s poor.

The Government has decided to make the optional policy Christian Aid championed mandatory (as detailed in its Procurement Policy Note 08/16).

That means that all public bodies, including local councils, are legally required to adopt this more detailed scrutiny of companies’ tax affairs as a matter of course with all large contracts above a certain threshold.

If there is a problem with a bidding company’s past ‘tax compliance’, then the company must be excluded from the contract.

More information about Christian Aids 'Sourced Campaign' can be found at:

http://www.christianaid.org.uk/ActNow/tax-justice/index.aspx

Thanks.

Yours,

Andrew Wastling

The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Rochdale Online.


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