1) Six firms including Facebook and Google, made £14bn last year but paid just 0.3% tax
An investigation by the Sunday Mirror has revealed that Facebook, Google, Amazon, Ebay, Apple and Starbucks have paid less than 1% tax.
The companies reported revenue of £2.6bn but further income by sister companies have been collected and have avoided tax through havens. The total they are estimated to have made is actually £14.2bn.
“The Sunday Mirror also reported that there was £9bn black hole in corporation tax, helped along by corporate tax cuts brought in by George Osborne.
“These changes include a scheme “so blatantly a tax avoidance arrangement for big business” it is now being reformed after protests from Germany and the EU, said Richard Murphy of campaign group Tax Research.
“Meanwhile, ordinary people were clobbered with a 2.5 per cent VAT hike within weeks of the Tory-led Government taking office in 2010.
“A group of 17 leading charities, including ActionAid, Oxfam and the Equality Trust, are urgently calling on all political parties to support a Tax Dodging Bill.”
Further support for tax avoidance was shown by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who defended Boots Boss Stefano Pessina’s tax avoidance, insisting that Pessina had a ‘duty’ to avoid tax for his shareholders.
Crucially, in this defence figures like Boris never highlight that this is money owed to the UK, that should be used for social good, public services and resources. Boris is attempting to make this acceptable, but Frankie Boyle put it succinctly enough on Twitter last year:
‘If you’re rich don’t look at it as tax avoidance, look at it as a children’s hospital buying you a pool.’
2) Number of City backers doubles for Tories
The number of City donors has doubled for the Tories since 2010 with figures from the Square Mile, the Financial Times reported last week.
We’re sure this has nothing to do with the lucrative money grabbing policies for the city allowed by the Tories through corporate tax cuts and the free reign and support of loopholes and avoidance as above. But they clearly like something about them.
3) 40 MPs on guest list for dinner with arms trade dealers
40 MPs were on the guest list for a dinner organised by trade organisation ADS, at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, according to information passed to The Independent by Campaign Against Arms Trade (Caat).
Jeremy Vine gave a speech at the event for a five figure fee, and Business Secretary Vince Cable also attended the event.
Andrew Smith from Caat said: “It’s outrageous that the government actively supports and promotes this deadly trade.
“The fact that arms dealers were swilling champagne with over 40 MPs is a disgrace and shows the extent of the arms trade’s connections and political lobbying.”
4) Costs of Universal Credit plans not to be revealed until after election
The costs of the troubled Universal Credit System will not be revealed until after the May 2015 election, according to information received by Computer Weekly.
The new system has faced trouble from the start, and was estimated to cost £12.85bn in 2012. However, since then problems and costs have mounted and the government has failed to release a new estimate for 2 years.
“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which leads development of Universal Credit, and the Cabinet Office, which has responsibility for project oversight, have concealed the revised cost estimate since tearing up plans for the computer system in 2013 after two years of development – a process they called a “reset”. “
Minister for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has also used taxpayer’s money to fight the release of information in the Courts, appealing several times.
This is a clear manipulation of information, in order to serve the current government’s PR in the run up to the election.
5) Hinchingbrooke hospital handed back to NHS
Hinchingbrooke hospital, the first hospital to be given to private management will be handed back to the NHS by the end of March.
Steve Melton, head of Circle Health who ran the hospital, was answering questions to the Public Accounts Committee on the hospital’s failures and a Care Quality Commission report that declared Hinchingbrooke as ‘inadequate’ – the first hospital to be declared so by the CQC.
Melton denied that the report gave the full picture of the problems.
6) Number of teachers quitting classroom reaches 10-year high
The number of teachers quitting the profession has reached a 10-year high according to figures released by the Department for Education.
50,000 teachers quit in the year to November 2013 (the latest figures to hand), a 25% increase over 4 years.
Christine Blower of the NUT said falling working conditions and pay were pushing candidates away:
“A combination of unacceptable number of hours worked, a punitive accountability system, the introduction of performance-related pay and being expected to work until 68 for a pension has turned teaching into a less than attractive career choice.”