Great news below from the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council – we briefed the church leaders for this important meeting:
The churches are at the forefront of emergency welfare provision for people who are destitute because of unemployment and cuts; in this context, evasion and aggressive avoidance of tax by wealthy companies and individuals seems an even greater injustice than it would otherwise.
[In the photo, left to right] Rt Revd John Packer (Bishop of Ripon and Leeds), Pastor Gloria Hanley (Wesleyan Holiness Church) and Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Pontefract and Chair of West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council – WYEC) travelled to London to meet Baron Newby of Rothwell, the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip in the House of Lords, and former financial spokesman.
The church leaders pressed for:
- amendments to the Finance Bill;
- strengthening of the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) which deal with tax avoidance;
- much greater support for HMRC in pursuing tax-dodgers;
- specific UK action around the forthcoming G8 summit:
- the British Government could deal with those tax havens that are UK Dependencies or overseas territories;
- it could introduce treaties to make international financial dealings transparent, so it would be possible to trace the ultimate ‘beneficial owners’ of all transactions.
These changes, called for by Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty, would not only raise more money in UK tax (and so reduce the pressure to make cuts), they would assist developing countries, and counter international crime.