It is not an issue that politicians talk a lot about, and not always favourable with the electorate, but tax is fast becoming a key part of our discussion on what our local economies look like after Covid-19. The recent breakthrough at the G7 summit on corporation tax shows a change in the right direction. People want to know that the companies they deal with are playing fair, and that they are rightly contributing to the public services and national infrastructure that we need.

The good news is that public agree too, two-thirds of the public think that the government and local councils should consider a company’s ethics and how they pay their taxes when undertaking procurement.

This week, Birmingham has committed to being part of a growing network of local councils that support responsible tax conduct. We have a leadership role to play as Councillors and can even look to our own organisations to improve as well. Research commissioned by the Fair Tax Foundation that between 2014-19, a huge 17.5% of UK public procurement contracts – with a combined value of £37.5bn – were won by businesses with connections to a tax haven.

Agreeing to sign up to the Councils for Fair Tax Accreditation is a natural alignment of the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility (BBC4SR), which I lead on in the Cabinet. As a local council we can take action now and demand higher standards from our suppliers to improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Birmingham and its citizens. In some cases, adopting the Charter is a requirement of specific contracts or grants.

A key question, is how you know if a company is doing the right thing on tax, and that is where the Fair Tax Mark comes in. This is an independent accreditation for organisations that certifies they are paying the right amount of tax in the right place at the right time and applying the gold standard of tax transparency. It is no surprise that many co-operatives and the Co-op Party have Fair Tax accreditation as well as large national companies including Lush Cosmetics, Timpson and Richer Sounds. 

We need a level playing field for our local businesses so that they can compete against large global corporations who already enjoy so many advantages.  

This Fair Tax Mark Week, Birmingham has shown that action can be taken at a local level now, and I look forward to many more councils joining us.