5 pieces of banknotes on yellow and white textile
Photo by Christopher Bill on Unsplash

The link between the health of our High Streets and town centres and international agreements on tax may not be an immediately obvious one, but they are every bit as interconnected as the supply chains which business and consumers rely on. Co-operative MP James Murray put it succinctly: “The prime minister and chancellor have repeatedly turned a blind eye as British businesses on our high streets are undermined by tax-dodging tech giants like Amazon.”

Whilst governments have agreed to a 15% tax rate from 2023 for multinational enterprises which is expected to generate around $150bn in tax revenues annually, but it falls short of the 21% that Labour were pushing for. Whilst the new agreement is likely to eliminate some inter-country tax competition by introducing a minimum tax rate, it falls short of introducing a level-playing field between UK-based bricks and mortar business which typically face a 19% corporation tax rate. As James added: “Ending the race to the bottom is crucial to taxing fairly, and to helping our high streets and British businesses to thrive.”

Research by Labour suggests that many of the UK Government’s largest suppliers have links to countries regarded as tax havens. Public procurement – as Co-operative led councils like Preston are showing – is the best opportunity the state has to demonstrate what good business looks like. It is a very peculiar state of affairs that the Government’s own Outsourcing Playbook (the civil servants guide for contracting) makes no mention of tax. And despite the brilliant work of organisation like the Fair Tax Foundation to encourage and celebrate companies which pay the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place, it really only needs to exist because of the inaction of Government. Unless and until the UK Government does act, we’re left with campaigning to highlight and change the tax system nationally to support our High Streets, and to encourage councils to adopt the Councils for Fair Tax declaration.