The Paradise Papers reveal the rotten core of our society, where the richest and most powerful are able to secrete their wealth abroad in order to avoid paying their fair share.
When Theresa May was appointed Prime Minister, she promised to protect everyone, not just the wealthy. Instead, people and households suffer under her sustained attack on our welfare state. The UK Government continues with their damaging austerity obsession as Brexit bites.
When the Paradise Papers were leaked, we were – again – promised action. Instead, the UK Government has sat on its hands, distracted by its own shambolic negotiations and engulfed in internal struggles.
This dire predicament has coincided with an unprecedented inflation increase, which is pushing up the cost of living. Households in the UK face the longest fall in living standards since records began, the biggest increase in inequality since Thatcher, and two decades of no earnings growth.
It is profoundly unjust that – at a time of austerity – Tories are allowing the wealthiest in society to stash their wealth offshore. Now is the time to address years of inaction, and implement rigorous regulation that holds to account the wealthiest from exploiting offshore tax havens.
So here is my message to the Prime Minister:
Let me be clear – A low tax, deregulated tax haven Britain is incompatible with our aspiration for a world-class social security system, a fair society, or good business practices. As we approach a period of long-term uncertainty with the harsh realities posed by a hard Brexit, we insist that rigorous regulation is brought forward to create a tax system that genuinely works for everyone.
Key to creating a tax system based on justice and fairness is a widespread simplification of the UK tax code. The complexity of the tax code has created an unequal playing field, where the wealthiest benefit. The simplification of the UK tax code is critical to closing the tax gap, reducing the capacity to exploit loopholes in the system, and increasing the tax yield.
We must place an immediate moratorium and review of the closure of HMRC offices in Scotland and across the UK. The invaluable advice offered by HMRC offices boosts our tax take, and supports local businesses and local jobs.
End the hollow rhetoric, and replace it with action to tackle international tax avoidance.