A pledged crackdown on tax evaders who fail to pay tens of millions to the Treasury has been a failure, a North East Labour MP says.
Blyth Valley’s Ronnie Campbell’s comments come after tax expert Richard Murphy estimated around £80m was not paid to the Government last year.
The MP also called on the Conservatives to reverse job cuts at HM Revenue and Customs (HRMC) which he says have shrunken the workforce by 43% in just over a decade.
He said: “The current Tory-led coalition has promised a clamp-down, but have not acted on those empty promises.
“Think how many new hospitals, schools and care homes could have been built across the North East.
“It is a disgrace and the next Labour government will sort it out.”
The report, commissioned by the Public and Commercial Services union, revealed the overall amount of tax owed, evaded or avoided has barely reduced despite tough-talking pledges by the Government. It adds evasion could rise to £100bn by 2018-19.
The report focused on economic activities not recorded or declared so as to avoid government regulation or taxation; tax lost as a result of other criminal or fraudulent activity in the UK economy; capital gains tax and inheritance tax and offshore tax evasion; and tax evasion on investment and rental income.
The report recommends introducing a proper anti-avoidance rule into UK tax law; country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations; reform of small business taxation; and proper regulation of companies in the UK to ensure they file their accounts and tax returns and pay the taxes they owe.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 30 Sept 2014
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck today claimed George Osborne’s fifth budget would only widen the north-south divide.
She believes Osborne’s statement demonstrated the Coalition Government is “out of touch” with people in the constituency.
She said: “He tried to say that the economy is turning around, but households in South Shields who have seen their wages fall while prices rise month after month will see right through him.
“It’s clear whose side the Chancellor is on. Wages in London’s banking sector are rising nearly five times faster than the national average, and even then he won’t rule out tax cuts for the top earners. Meanwhile, those on low incomes are continuing to see their living standards fall.”
Coun Iain Malcolm, the leader of South Tyneside Council, labelled the budget a “gimmick”.
He said: “The budget was classic ‘smoke and mirrors’, full of pre-election gimmicks. They announced that they would cut inheritance tax for emergency service workers killed in duty – but this only applies to those leaving more than £325,000, so it is difficult to calculate how many would actually benefit.”
Coun Malcolm said new support to build 200,000 new homes was “simply nowhere near enough to resolve the housing crisis facing this country”.
The budget received a more positive response from a senior member of the borough’s business community.
Julie Lightfoot, managing director of South Shields-based Solar Solve Ltd, said: “As a local family-owned business who exports 85 per cent of our turnover, it’s encouraging that the Government is supporting British manufacturers by introducing a £7bn package to cut energy bills
“Although we aren’t an intensive energy user, every little saving helps, although we’ll have to wait and see what the actual savings will be. However, it’s nice to know that half of the firms that will benefit the most by cuts in manufacturing costs are in the north of England.”
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn said: “This is a government that has pushed down living standards to such an extent it has left working people £1,600 a year worse off.
“Osborne and the Tories only stand up for the privileged few.”
Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, said: “The Chancellor should have had the courage of his convictions and stood by his support of a £7 minimum wage. Moving to the Living Wage is the best way to raise tax revenue and put money into people’s pockets. It would boost consumer confidence and increase spending in local shops and businesses.”
North East Chamber of Commerce policy director Ross Smith said: “This was a sensible budget, and the conditions within which North East businesses can continue their strong contribution to UK growth have been strengthened by these announcements.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 21 March 2014