Watch: Minister evades question on tax-dodger bailouts

Should taxpayers bail out tax-dodgers?

Should companies that haven’t paid their fair share of tax in the UK be eligible for taxpayer bailouts now coronavirus has damged their business?

That’s the question that Labour MP Peter Kyle put to the Business Secretary Alok Sharma this morning.

As you can see here, Sharma evaded the question. He did the same when Left Foot Forward asked if the sick pay would be increased on Friday.

Instead, he said that the coronavirus bail-out is designed to help individuals and that the government is tackling tax avoidance. He said he didn’t want to link the coronavirus bailout to the issue of tax avoidance.

Peter Kyle followed up by asking if Sharma would go back to these companies after the crisis and ask them to contribute to the UK through taxation. Again, he did not answer the question directly.

Kyle ended this line of questioning by saying: “Just to point out that those individuals that are benefitting [from the covid-19 bailout] now are also going to be the ones shouldering the burden of paying additional tax going forward in order to pay back the money we are pumping into businesses at the moment.”

Countries like Denmark and Poland have said that companies based in tax havens will not be eligible for future support payments to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Several opposition politicians have supported this stance including Green Party member of the House of Lords Natalie Bennett.

Writing in Left Foot Forward, she said that companies like Amazon and Starbucks should not be eligible for bailouts. Their workers should be supported instead by a Universal Basic Income.

On this issue, a Labour Party spokesperson told Left Foot Forward: “We support the government taking action to support vital sectors and jobs, but businesses must honour their obligations to their staff and our society. It’s not good enough for companies to expect large state bail outs while failing to support their workers or pay the tax they owe.”

Joe Lo is a co-editor at Left Foot Forward

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