Southern Co-op has today, December 20, 2019, secured its first Fair Tax Mark certification, and joins the growing movement of progressive businesses who are proud to say what they pay with pride.
Southern Co-op was established in Portsmouth, Hampshire over 145 years ago. It is an independent, regional co-operative owned by its more than 140,000 members. Southern Co-op operates across 11 counties in the south of England, with a network of over 200 convenience stores including a successful franchise arm. Southern Co-op also has an end of life services business comprising funeral homes, crematoria and a natural burial ground.
The Fair Tax Mark is an independent certification scheme, which recognises organisations that demonstrate they are paying the right amount of corporation tax in the right place, at the right time. In total, more than 50 businesses have now been certified, who between them have over 7,000 offices and outlets across the UK. These include iconic national brands such as Timpson, Lush, SSE and Richer Sounds.
In achieving the Fair Tax Mark, Southern Co-op has become the first business headquartered in Hampshire to receive certification and the 14th cooperative nationally to join the Fair Tax Mark movement.
Paul Monaghan, chief executive, Fair Tax Mark, said: “We are delighted that Southern Co-op is now an accredited Fair Tax Mark business; leading the way in Hampshire and offering consumers a fair tax choice on their local high street.
“Southern Co-op is joining a growing movement of businesses that are proudly saying what tax they pay, committing to transparency in their reporting and being clear to their customers that they won’t be using tax havens or shifting profits to avoid paying what they owe. The public rightly expects responsible behaviour but far too often they’re reading headlines that describe the tactics businesses employ to avoid contributing the tax they owe to the public purse.
“It is estimated that annually, due to corporate profits being shifted to tax havens, corporate tax revenue losses in the UK amount to at least £7bn. Just think of the nurses, doctors and teachers we could employ, or the renewable energy infrastructure we could build if that tax was paid as it should be?”
Greg Wilkins, finance director at Southern Co-op, said: “We’ve made a promise to provide a ‘fair, fresh approach, for all’ and we work hard to embed this commitment through all areas of our business including tax.
“We are delighted to be awarded the Fair Tax Mark as this adds to our wider work to ensure we are being a responsible business.
“It’s not surprising to learn that 13 other co-operatives have also achieved the Fair Tax Mark as so many of us are underpinned by ethical values. But it is unexpected to know we’re the first in Hampshire. We hope this latest news will inspire others to follow suit and demonstrate what it means to be a responsible business.”
Earlier this year the Fair Tax Mark released polling data from ICM that showed record levels of concern among the public about the use of tax avoidance practices by business in the UK. Over three quarters of people responded that they would rather shop with (77%) or work for (78%) a business that can prove it is paying its fair share of tax – in both cases, up eight percentage points on 2018. An increasing number also said that it was important to celebrate businesses who can demonstrate good tax conduct and shun the artificial use of tax havens and contrived tax avoidance practices, up six percentage points on 2018, to 75%.
Monaghan continued: “Paying the right amount of tax is about fairness. We’re pleased to see that there’s a growing movement of responsible businesses that are stepping up and voluntarily demonstrating a transparent approach to tax. We hope others will follow the leadership of Southern Co-op in this area.”