Vows made to crack down on Devon tax dodgers

Claire Wright

Claire Wright - Credit: Archant

A disappointed councillor has vowed to carry on fighting for changes to crack down on tax dodgers.

A disappointed councillor has vowed to carry on fighting for changes to crack down on tax dodgers.

Claire Wright’s motion to Devon County Council (DCC), to see companies declare convictions of tax avoidance, or of using avoidance strategies, when bidding for contracts with the authority, went before cabinet on Wednesday.

However, the matter was deferred for a second time, despite cross-party support from Liberal Democrat and Labour leaders.

The motion sought to lower the threshold for when tax avoidance questions could be asked of companies.

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If all corporation tax was collected, it is estimated £380million could have been saved in Devon alone.

Councillor Wright urged Conservative councillors to back the motion and act on the ‘modern scourge’ of tax avoidance by wealthy corporate giants.

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“That’s money which could be spent on our schools, our hospitals, children’s services and the elderly. All of these services are horribly underfunded and horribly under pressure,” she said.

“It is really disappointing…It would be so easy for the council to do this. It would literally be changing a couple of questions on a questionnaire.”

Chairing the talks on Wednesday, Councillor John Clatworthy told the meeting that the Cabinet Office had stated the current threshold had been set in order to avoid administrative burdens to low value procurements and small businesses.

He added that the office’s current guidance was also being updated and, since DCC was complying with legislation and government policy, he would be more comfortable waiting for its publication.

“In the meantime, I would like to thank Cllr Wright for bringing this motion to us, but no further action will be taken at this stage,” said Cllr Clatworthy.

The motion will be put before the full council on May 12.

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