A Conservative minister with responsibility for taxation attended a dinner with a “tax intelligence” company that promises “financial efficiencies” to its paying clients, records show.
David Gauke, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has strategic oversight of the UK tax system – including corporate tax and international tax issues.
Mr Gauke’s register of ministerial gifts and hospitality – released in a barrage of documents close to Christmas – shows he attended an awards dinner organised by the company, Tolley, in May 2015.
Representatives from the financial services industry can pay a standard rate of £3,180 per table to attend the annual dinner’s 2016 iteration, with the option of a “platinum” table available at £3,960.
It is not clear what the minister discussed with representatives from the industry at the dinner.
Asked in writing by Labour MP Helen Goodman what conversations he had and whether any minutes could be provided, Mr Gauke simply replied: “I attended the dinner in May 2015 in a personal capacity.”
The awards dinner was to announce the winners of the Tax Awards 2015. Mr Gauke had previously won Tax Personality of the Year in 2011 and had been invited to attend.
The ceremony’s organiser, Tolley, is a tax products specialist. It says on its website that it can help provide “financial efficiencies” to its clients.
The Independent asked the Treasury whether the minister’s attendance at the dinner indicated that he endorsed the services of the company, but did not receive a reply to that specific point.
Mr Gauke hit the headlines in 2012 when he said it was “morally wrong” to pay tradesmen in cash for a discount because it meant others would have to pay more tax.
Late last year the Office for Budget Responsibility announced that George Osborne’s tax avoidance crackdown has missed its target by hundreds of millions of pounds.
The OBR said six of the specific measures pursued by the Chancellor had unperformed by £50m or more each.
In November the Public Accounts Committee of MPs warned that HMRC had made "little or no progress" on measures to reveal the scale of aggressive tax avoidance happening in Britain
The Government says it has made cracking down on tax avoidance a priority. In September HMRC said it had collected £1bn from users of tax avoidance schemes as a result of new rules.
“The Government will not tolerate tax avoidance and Accelerated Payments has been a real game changer,” Mr Gauke said at the time of that announcement.
A Treasury spokesman said of Mr Gauke’s attendance at the dinner: “As a previous winner of the Tax Personality of the Year award, the minister was invited to attend this event to see who won the award in 2015.”Reuse content