A Close Shave

Posted on Posted in News, Uncategorized

I have been quite vocal in my community recently, concerning threats of potential closure to our local hospital. There is a possibility that the A&E, Maternity and Paediatric departments will be centralised over 20 miles away in Worcester. Worcester Acute Hospital Trust need to plug a £50 million deficit which is growing by the day, however for a town with a population exceeding 75,000 and growing, I feel a hospital is a necessity. £50 million is a staggering amount of money, but in the grand scheme of things it is actually not a lot. I will try and explain…

Hospital ClosuresI was shaving last week, I was half way through when my shaver decided to break. Now there is never a good time for your electric razor to break, most especially when you’re half way through a shave. For as long as I have been buying items online, I have always opted to use Amazon, they seem to offer better prices and the service has always been good.

I googled ‘Amazon’, but before clicking onto the website a news article caught my attention. The article’s headline read ‘Amazon UK paid £2.4m tax last year despite £4bn sales’. I did a bit of research to see how much profit Amazon disclosed, £74 million was the answer.

There are many other large organisations accused of not paying their ‘fair share’ of corporation tax. Amazon’s British operation is owned by a company based in Luxembourg which receives all payments for their goods. Boots registered HQ is an anonymous post office box in the Swiss town of Zug, they are believed to pay just 3% tax. Google, eBay, Starbucks, Vodafone, Experian and G4S are all shown to contribute little and often nothing to the UK purse.

“And although they employ many thousands of people in Britain, it is unclear whether collectively they are net creators or destroyers of employment”
Robert Peston, BBC

I know large organisations have a duty to their shareholders to minimise their costs of doing business. However, large amounts of money are being spent by UK residents and it is not returned or invested back into our economy.

StarbucksAre the companies to blame? Are they exploiting a loophole? It’s a question I have been pondering for a couple of weeks. Are politicians to blame for this ineffective tax system? I am not an economist or a politician, but I do feel strongly that something needs to be done.

I find it concerning that hospitals are facing a real threat of closure due to spending cuts. My local hospital has saved lives of people I know, treated my family members, as well as myself. It is believed that tax avoidance in the UK is in excess of £70bn. The £50m needed to maintain our hospital seems like a drop in the ocean by comparison. Can we accept that individual wealth is more important than an entire communities’ welfare?

The barriers to entry also concern me. Anyone wishing to start up a new electronics shop, book shop or media business, are not competing on a level playing field.

In a recent blog post ‘Back To The Future’ I spoke about forging local business links and spending money with local businesses. However, I realised I have been somewhat contradicting these principles in my personal life. I have been purchasing books from Amazon, toiletries from Boots, a coffee on the go from Starbucks etc, without any consideration of their business ethics or policies.

There is great debate and a small uprising online, with some websites calling for the boycott of large businesses who fail to pay corporation tax.

In the end, I decided not to buy my new razor from Amazon.




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2 thoughts on “A Close Shave

  1. Good post steve, drawing an important connection between aggressive tax avoidance placing SMEs at an unfair disadvantage and the cuts to public services that will sadly cost lives in our community and many others.

    I admire your choice not to buy from amazon and want to ask if you will put your support behind a bill proposed in Parliament to increase tax and company transparency see weblink attached to this post. I will write to Karen Lumley MP to encourage her to get behind it.

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