Anti-poverty charities have hit out at the government after ministers failed to include measures to tackle tax dodging in their programme for government.
The Conservative manifesto pledged to “raise at least £5 billion from continuing to tackle tax evasion, and aggressive tax avoidance and tax planning”.
But measures to crack down on tax avoidance were apparently absent from the government’s programme in the first post-election Queen’s Speech.
Action Aid UK said campaigners had been “left in the dark” by the government on the issue and that the lack of concrete measures was a surprise.
The campaigners says that as well as boosting the UK’s finances, developing countries would be better able to raise their own revenue to pay for schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure.
“Despite the encouraging promises in the Conservative manifesto, after today’s Queen’s Speech we remain in the dark as to how the Chancellor will recover the £5 billion he plans to get from clamping down on tax dodging,” Barry Johnston, head of advocacy at the charity argued.
“The Government has a strong mandate to act on this issue so the absence of any mention today will come as a surprise to many.”
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
1/8 Welfare payments will be slashed
One of the most controversial parts of the Conservative manifesto was to cut benefits for the working age poor by £12 bn over the next three years. But during the campaign they only said where £2 bn of these savings would come from. That leaves £10 bn still to find. Some experts think the only way they can close that gap is by means testing child benefit – with millions of families losing out
2/8 There will be tax cuts for those in work and those who die
The Tories will increase the threshold at which the 40p rate of tax becomes payable to £50,000 by 2020. They haven’t said so but it is also likely that at some point in the next five years they will abolish that 45p rate of tax altogether for the highest earners. They also want to increase the effective inheritance tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1m
3/8 There will be an in/out EU referendum in 2017
The next two years are going to be dominated by the prospect of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. First off David Cameron has the daunting task of negotiating a deal with other EU leaders an acceptable deal that he can sell to his party so he can go into the referendum campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote. This may be unachievable and it is possible that the Tories may end up arguing to leave. Opinion polls show Britain is divided on EU membership, one poll this year showed 51% said they would opt to leave compared to 49% who would vote to stay in
4/8 There will be more privatisation of the NHS
Having won the election the Tories now have a mandate to go further and faster reforming the NHS. In order to make cost savings there is likely to be greater private involvement in running services, while some smaller hospitals may lose services they currently provide like A&E and maternity units
5/8 There will be many more free schools – and traditional state schools will become a thing of the past
The Tories plans to create 500 new free schools and make 3,000 state schools become academies. They will also carry on reforming the Department of Education and remove more powers from local authorities over how schools are run
6/8 On shore wind farms will be a thing of the past and fracking will be the future
Government spending on renewable energy is under real threat now the Lib Dems are no longer in power with the Tories. Subsidies are likely to be slashed for off-shore wind farm and other green energy supplies. Meanwhile there will be generous tax break for fracking as ministers try and incentivise the industry to drill for onshore oil and gas
7/8 There maybe more free childcare – but not necessarily
In the campaign the Tories pledged to double the amount of free early education for three- and four-year-olds from 15 hours a week to 30. The extra hours would only be offered to working families where parents are employed for at least eight hours a week. However they have not said where the money will come from to fund the pledge
8/8 Workers' rights could be reduced
The Tories want to slash business regulation, merge regulator and cut costs. The Lib Dems stopped them from reducing the employment rights of workers in power – but these are now under threat
The charity ChristianAid said it was disappointing that the government was not making a crack-down a priority.
It argues £3.6bn could be raised for the UK treasury on top of “billions” that would flow from tax avoiders to developing countries and relieve pressure on aid spending.
“We’re disappointed that the Bill has not been included in the Government’s priority legislation this year and we ask the Government to act on our policy recommendations in July’s Budget,” said Christine Allen, its director of public affairs.
“Corporate tax dodging costs developing countries an estimated $160 billion every year. We welcome the Conservative manifesto commitment to consider the case for revealing multinational companies’ tax payments in every country in which they operate."
Charities have campaigned for a specific 'tax dodging bill' to be brought forward in Parliament, rather than piecemeal measures in secondary legislation.
The Conservative manifesto claims to have raised billions from tax dodgers in the previous parliament.
The Independent reported in March that tax avoidance investigations were up by a quarter compared to the same time last year.
A poll published in the same month found that most people in the UK believe that legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion.
HMRC estimated last year that the UK’s tax gap is £34bn – meaning nearly 7 per cent of all taxes owed go unpaid.Reuse content