Scottish Ministers told time is right to act against tax dodging companies

Date: Thu 7 March 2013

UNISON Scotland will today (Thursday) urge the Scottish Government to respond to overwhelming public outrage about tax dodging companies.

The public services union wants Ministers to use their forthcoming Procurement Reform Bill to ban firms involved in tax dodging from winning public contracts.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, will tell a Holyrood conference on Sustainable Procurement that the time is right to legislate and that there is considerable cross party support for the principle.

Also, a recent Christian Aid public opinion survey found that 80% are angry about firms not paying their fair share of tax and a third are boycotting companies over it.

Dave said: “There is enormous public anger over companies that don’t pay their fair share of tax. The timing of this Bill is perfect for the Scottish Government to respond.

“We are suggesting that the Bill should send out a very clear message. As Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said, ‘Taxpayers’ money should not be funding tax dodgers.’”

The Edinburgh conference, organised by Holyrood Magazine, is to hear about a range of ways in which procurement can be used as a lever for social, economic and environmental benefits, including to support the Living Wage, to support local economies and sustainable development and to contribute to climate change emissions reduction targets.

Dave Watson is speaking at the event, on promoting best practice, including the Scottish Living Wage.

He said: “At a time of massive public spending cuts it is outrageous that some £120 billion of tax is not being collected. The UK Government should be doing more with stronger anti-tax-avoidance legislation, more tax staff and greater transparency in company accounts.

“The Scottish Government can encourage companies to change their ways through procurement.”



For information please contact:
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, 07958 122 409
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877 000
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07876 566 978
Notes for Editors

1. Danny Alexander made the comment quoted above in September 2012 at the Liberal Democrat party conference.

2. The conference website is

3. UNISON’s Procurement Reform Bill Consultation response is online ProcurementReformBill_Response_Nov2012.pdf

4. A number of European cities/regions are already acting against companies that use tax havens.

5. Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK, and adviser to the Tax Justice Network, says that legislation in England, the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, provides councils there with ways to argue for this that would not breach EU procurement rules. This would include councils being able to demonstrate that a large company paying tax would benefit the community through funding for better education, roads etc. This would allow them to choose a tender on the basis of which company pays tax or not. the-october-taxcast-from-the-tax-justice-network/

UNISON believes the Procurement Reform Bill could use a similar approach.

6. This Early Day Motion has received support from Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat Scottish MPs

7. Transport Scotland said last week that companies involved in tax avoidance may be barred from competing to maintain the new Forth Road Bridge.

8. UNISON Scotland is a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland which has raised concerns that the Procurement Reform Bill will not be strong enough on sustainability and ensuring procurement policy contributes to climate change emissions reduction targets sccs-proc-cons-resp-final-web_2.pdf.