Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has told companies that Labour will be ‘coming for you’ if they avoid taxes, and has urged pension funds to increase pressure on businesses they invest in.
Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, McDonnell used his main speech to say there were a ‘minority’ of businesses which were avoiding tax on an ‘industrial scale’.
After decrying the Conservatives’ record on tackling tax avoidance and money laundering as a ‘disgrace’, McDonnell announced a new campaign, which will use shareholders, including pension funds, to demand companies do not avoid tax.
‘We can’t trust the Tories on this but we shouldn’t just wait until we get into government. We should act now,’ he said.
‘One way is to mobilise shareholder power to demand companies uphold basic tax justice standards. Numerous institutions from churches to trade unions and pension funds have large scale shareholdings in many of the companies that avoid taxes. So today I’m announcing my intention to bring together these organisations to launch a shareholder campaign.’
McDonnell said the campaign would be demanding firms sign up to its Fair Tax Mark standards.
‘So fair warning to the tax avoiders, we are coming for you,’ he said.
McDonnell’s speech came after yesterday’s announcement that Labour would introduce measures to give employees working in companies with 250 staff or more a 10% stake in the business.
Speaking today McDonnell announced Labour would nationalise the water industry which will be run by councils, workers and customers.
Under Labour’s plans, senior executives at the water companies would have their positions re-advertised on reduced salaries capped at its 20:1 pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid companies in the business.
This would, he said, see an end to ‘profiteering in dividends, vast executive salaries and excessive interest payments’. This nationalisation agenda will be achieved via a new Public and Community Ownership Unit within the Treasury.