Southern Co-operative has joined national brands such as Timpson, Lush, SSE and Richer Sounds in being recognised by the Fair Tax Mark accreditation for paying the right amount of corporation tax in the right place, at the right time.
The Fair Tax Mark is an independent scheme, which has so far recognised the achievements of 50 businesses, who between them have over 7,000 offices and outlets across the UK.
The news comes as the Institute of Business Ethics released its annual survey which found that the top three issues concerning the public have remained the same in 2019: tax avoidance (33%, same result as the previous year); executive pay (29%, up five percentage points) and environmental responsibility (28%, up four percentage points).
Southern Co-op was established in Portsmouth over 145 years ago and is owned by more than 140,000 members. It has stores in 11 counties in the south of England, with a network of over 200 convenience stores and a successful franchise arm. Southern Co-op also has an end of life services business comprising funeral homes, crematoria and a natural burial ground.
It is the 14th co-operative to be recognised by the scheme. Others include retail societies Midcounties, East of England, Scotmid, Radstock and the Co-op Group, worker co-operatives Unicorn and Suma, and support organisations the Co-operative Party and Co-operatives UK .
“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,” said Greg Wilkins, finance director at Southern Co-op.
“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 … We hope this news will inspire others to follow suit and demonstrate what it means to be a responsible business.”
Paul Monaghan, chief executive of the 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?”