Thursday, 20 February 2014

Fair Tax Mark: great idea, Labour!

Richard Murphy`s new scheme to encourage a more ethical approach to tax, with the Fair Tax Mark awarded to companies who pay the correct sum, is an excellent idea; companies which are paying the right amount of tax should "stand out", at a time when tax avoidance is denying the Treasury at least £25bn annually. Clearly fed up with the Starbucks of this world, who make huge profits in this country, employ state educated staff who enjoy the benefits of the NHS, sell to publicly-funded customers, and reap the benefits of the public transport and security systems, whilst paying as little tax as possible, the public needs to be able to identify the "exemplars of good practice" and give them their support and custom.
   The idea of being able to identify the businesses whose activities bring benefit to the economy as a whole is not new, and the Labour leader might do well to read some biographies of the other Roosevelt instead, for one of FDR`s more successful New Deal policies was the awarding of the "Blue Eagle" accreditation to companies exhibiting practice akin to what Miliband would call "responsible capitalism". There is certainly a case to be made in Britain for a Fair Employer Mark, which could be awarded to all businesses which allowed all workers full trade union rights, something sadly, some large engineering firms are apparently avoiding, and also one for companies with a creditable apprenticeship scheme. A Safe Employer Mark might be useful for firms where machinery is used or where accidents more likely to happen, whilst the most obvious accreditation could be the Mark for sensible and fair pay, with the living wage paid to all workers employed directly or indirectly by the company, equal rates of pay and opportunities for all workers , regardless of race and gender, and a reasonable pay ratio between the lowest and highest paid, (including bonuses). It could be awarded by the Fair Pay commission, a government body which replaced the badly named low pay commission.
 If Miliband is serious in his efforts to end "predatory capitalism", and to show that Labour is not in thrall to the City unlike the other parties, he and his colleagues should be voicing their full support for the Fair Tax Mark, and thinking seriously about extending it, when in government. A pledge to do so now might well make that possibility more likely! 

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