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Budget tax reforms leave poor countries out in the cold, says Christian Aid

18 March 2015 - Christian Aid sees little in the UK Chancellor’s Budget Speech, or the European Commission’s new plan on tax transparency, to make a difference to the tax dodging which drains billions from developing countries every year, Christian Aid says today.

The Chancellor has announced a string of measures on tax avoidance and evasion but Christian Aid believes that to really close the net on big companies avoiding their fair share of tax, the UK should introduce a comprehensive Tax Dodging Bill.

“We are pleased to see politicians trying to tackle rampant tax dodging,” said Joseph Stead, Christian Aid’s Senior Economic Justice Adviser.

“However, at all the points at which both UK and EU could have decided to help developing countries, they flunked it.

“In relation to tax dodging, the UK and EU appear to believe that we are not all in it together - developing countries are on their own.”

On the Government’s plans to introduce country-by-country reporting requirements for multinational companies, firms should have publicly to report the information. Failure to do this means few developing countries will benefit from the information being given to the UK’s tax authority.

“Keeping this crucial information hidden from public eyes means that developing countries are never going to get the information they need to tackle tax dodging,” warned Mr Stead.

However, Christian Aid is hopeful that further UK Government plans, to introduce a new criminal offence of helping others to evade tax, could make a difference for people living in poverty in developing countries.

“We urge the Government to consider how to make such a new law work for the world’s poorest people, who also suffer grave harm at the hands of tax evaders and their professional advisers,” added Mr Stead. “The new offence could easily be made to apply wherever in the world the crime happens, in the same way as the UK Bribery Act already does.”

Commenting on the European Commission’s new plans for greater tax transparency in Europe, he added: “For the sake of developing countries and the trust of taxpayers all over Europe, the EU needs to improve its tax transparency.

“Today’s announcement is only tiptoeing in the right direction. With the President of the Commission narrowly avoiding censure for overseeing decades of dodgy tax deals, Europe needs to do a lot more in the coming year to show it is serious about tax transparency.”

For more information please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or rbaird@christian-aid.org  24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950  

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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