Agenda item

MOTIONS

Motion No. 1

 

Councillor Bridgett to move the following motion, received by the Head of Democratic and Electoral Services on 20 December 2021:-

 

Considering the recent events both during and in the aftermath of Storm Arwen and rather than waiting for some form of national enquiry to take place (if it ever does), this council resolves:-

 

         to agree that it will undertake its own investigation into what occurred during and after the storm and it will task the most appropriate scrutiny/council committee to carry this out. This will include reviewing our own council policies and procedures and gathering evidence from councillors and council officers, but also questioning and gathering evidence from the utility companies such as Northern Powergrid, BT Openreach, Northumbrian Water and the mobile telecoms operators.

         to request, where necessary, that they come and provide information to the relevant scrutiny committee so that as a council, we can ensure lessons are learnt from this storm to enable all parties to build better resilience into their systems with the ultimate goal of ensuring that our residents will hopefully never have to experience such significant problems as they did as a result of Storm Arwen

         to request that the relevant scrutiny committee (in conjunction with officers) will bring together a report which outlines the issues and how those problems can potentially be mitigated. This will be brought back to the full council for debate and agreement, and will be used by this authority as a formal response should any government body or agency decide to carry out an enquiry into what happened as a result of the storm.

 

 

Motion No. 2

 

Councillor Morphet to move the following motion, received by the Head of Democratic and Electoral Services on 20 December 2021:-

 

The Councils for Fair Tax Declaration: An opportunity for the County Council to show support for responsible tax conduct 

 

Full Council notes that:

 

1.       Organisations are morally obliged to pay the right amount of tax, in the right place, at the right time.

 

2.       Polling from the Institute for Business Ethics finds that “corporate tax avoidance” has, since 2013, been the number one concern of the British public when it comes to business conduct.

3.       Almost two-thirds (63%) of the public agree that the Government and local authorities should consider a company’s ethics and tax conduct, as well as value for money and quality of service provided, when undertaking procurement.

4.       Around 17.5% of public contracts in the UK have been won by companies with links to tax havens.

5.       It has been conservatively estimated that losses from multinational profit-shifting (just one form of tax avoidance) could be costing the UK some £7bn per annum in lost corporation tax revenues.

6.       The Fair Tax Mark offers a means for business to demonstrate good tax conduct and has been secured by a wide range of businesses across the UK, including FTSE-listed PLCs, co-operatives, social enterprises and large private businesses.

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Full Council believes that:

 

1.       Paying tax is often presented as a burden, but it shouldn’t be.

2.       Tax enables us to provide services from education, health care and social care, to flood defences, road maintenance and policing. It also helps to counter financial inequalities and rebalance distorted economies.

3.       As recipients of significant public funding, local authorities should take the lead in the promotion of exemplary tax conduct, be that by ensuring contractors are paying their proper share of tax or by refusing to go along with offshore tax dodging when buying land and property.

4.       Where substantive stakes are held in private enterprises, then influence should be wielded to ensure that such businesses are exemplars of tax transparency and tax avoidance is shunned. For example, there should be no use of marketed schemes requiring disclosure under Disclosure Of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) regulations or arrangements that might fall foul of the General Anti-Abuse Rule.

5.       More action is needed, but current law significantly restricts councils’ ability to either penalise poor tax conduct or reward good tax conduct when buying goods or services.

6.       Local authorities can and should stand up for responsible tax conduct – by doing what they can within existing frameworks and by pledging to do more, given the opportunity, as active supporters of international tax justice.

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Full Council resolves to:

 

1.       Approve the Councils for Fair Tax Declaration.

2.       Lead by example and demonstrate good practice in our tax conduct, right across our activities.

3.       Ensure contractors implement IR35 robustly and pay a fair share of employment taxes.

4.       Not use offshore vehicles for the purchase of land and property, especially where this leads to reduced payments of stamp duty.

5.       Undertake due diligence to ensure that not-for-profit structures are not being used inappropriately as an artificial device to reduce the payment of tax and business rates. 

6.       Demand clarity on the ultimate beneficial ownership of suppliers and their consolidated profit & loss position.

7.       Promote Fair Tax Mark certification for any business in which we have a significant stake and where corporation tax is due.

8.       Support Fair Tax Week events in Northumberland and celebrate the tax contribution made by responsible businesses who “say what they pay" with pride.

9.       Support calls for urgent reform of UK law to enable local authorities to better penalise poor tax conduct and reward good tax conduct through their procurement policies.