Church leaders push West Yorkshire MPs & MEPs to take action for tax justice

On Wednesday 30 January, MPs and MEPs representing West Yorkshire received a letter from church leaders calling for concerted action from all political parties to address the issue of tax justice.

As senior church leaders and representatives of West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council (WYEC), they write during Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, from the experience of their churches daily sheltering homeless people, feeding hungry people, clothing destitute people and supporting people crippled by debt. As the numbers of food banks and food parcels increase, the sense of injustice at tax avoidance increases too.

The 14 signatories were also keen to point out that tax dodging, in its various forms, is an injustice that keeps some people poor while others get richer. The price is not just paid here in the UK. Christian Aid estimates that tax dodging by some unscrupulous multinational companies costs developing countries at least $160 billion a year, a figure one and a half times the global aid budget.

Chair of WYEC, Bishop of Pontefract Tony Robinson, said "Tax avoidance denies help to the poorest and most vulnerable people both here in the UK and in developing countries. This is morally unacceptable. As representatives of the churches of West Yorkshire we call on our politicians to take action to ensure multinational corporations pay their rightful share of tax in the countries they operate."

The letter asks the MPs and MEPs representing West Yorkshire to:

  • ensure the UK takes a lead in promoting transparency in the affairs of tax havens and the companies using them, particularly whilst it chairs the G8 summit in June and also through the EU;
  • ensure tax avoidance loopholes are closed for both companies and individuals;
  • push for measures that would require companies to report on the profits they make and taxes they pay in every country in which they operate;
  • push for measures that would require tax havens to automatically share information about the money flowing through them with other countries;
  • ensure greater resources and energy are deployed to detect and prosecute those engaged in illegal tax evasion.

The letter comes following support from church leaders for Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty’s joint campaigning for tax justice.

Promoting tax justice is part of the recently launched IF campaign (see www.christianaid.org.uk/if) and of Church Action on Poverty's campaign to Close the Gap between rich and poor (see www.church-poverty.org.uk/closethegap).

The signatories on the letter are:

  • Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract and Chair of WYEC
  • Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford
  • Revd Graham Ensor, Regional Minister, Yorkshire Baptist Association
  • Revd Kenneth Evans, Chairman, Yorkshire District, Moravian Church
  • Pastor Gloria Hanley, Representative West Yorkshire African Caribbean Council of Churches
  • Lt Col Bill Heeley, Divisional Commander, Salvation Army
  • Rt Revd Walter Jagucki, Bishop Emeritus, Lutheran Church of Great Britain
  • Rt Revd John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds
  • Eva Pinthus, Representative, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield
  • Revd Dr Liz Smith, Chair Leeds Methodist District
  • Revd Dr Roger Walton, Chair West Yorkshire Methodist District
  • Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator, Yorkshire Synod, United Reformed Church
  • Mgr John Wilson, Administrator, Catholic Diocese of Leeds

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