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Prime Minister vows to take firm action on 'tax dodgers'

Prime Minister, Theresa May reaffirmed her commitment to crack down on ‘tax dodgers’ during her inaugural speech as leader at the Conservative party conference.

May said the Government would “come after” those who ignored the rules, given that the majority of people accept it is “the price we pay for living in a civilised society”.

“If you’re a tax-dodger, we’re coming after you. If you’re an accountant, a financial adviser or a middleman who helps people to avoid what they owe to society, we’re coming after you too,” said May.

“An economy that works for everyone is one where everyone plays by the same rules. So whoever you are – however rich or powerful – you have a duty to pay your tax. And we’re going to make sure you do.”

The Prime Minister singled out the “people who are supposed to hold big business accountable”, claiming they were regularly “drawn from the same, narrow social and professional circles as the executive team” and subsequently the scrutiny they offer “is [simply] not good enough”.

“A change has got to come. So later this year we will publish our plans to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well,” added May.

Elizabeth Richards, head of corporate governance, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), said: “Theresa May is right to say people feel there is a deep divide between “the elites” and “the streets” – there is no doubt that the social contract between big business and society has reached breaking point.

“We anticipate new legislation to achieve her objectives on delivering greater fairness for workers, but by itself new law can’t mend relationships or make up for past scandals.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Haddrill, chief executive, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said the regulator concurred with the Prime Minister’s aim of engineering broader stakeholder engagement by companies, to “realign the interests of business and society”.

“Tackling important issues such as diversity in boardroom representation and executive pay is in the interests of society and business,” said Haddrill.

“In particular, we need to look at how boards set pay, respond to votes at annual general meetings on remuneration and align pay and culture.

“We should also look wider at other issues including how directors are held to account in relation to their obligations to all stakeholders.”

Image: Policy Exchange

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