Top Stories

February 20, 2014


New Fair Tax Mark highlights responsible business

The Fair Tax Mark, which claims to be the world’s first independent accreditation scheme to address the issue of responsible tax has been launched by Ethical Consumer magazine and Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network. Businesses will be given a score out of 20 based on their tax procedures which will indicate whether a company is making a “genuine effort” to be open and transparent about its tax affairs and pays the right amount of corporation tax, at the right time and in the right place. Estimates suggest that corporate tax avoidance in the UK is currently around £12 billion each year. Following the high profile cases of tax avoidance in the UK last year, which saw companies such as Google, Starbucks and Amazon implicated, a poll from the Institute of Business Ethics found that corporate tax avoidance was the number one concern of the public in terms of business conduct. Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said that, “I think this is a fantastic idea. Given the choice, many people would prefer to give their custom to a responsible business that does the right thing and pays its fair share of tax.” (Economia, BlueandGreenTomorrow)


500 Indian migrant workers die in build-up to Qatar World Cup

Over 500 Indian migrants, working to prepare Qatar for the 2022 World Cup have died since the beginning of 2012, according to official figures collected by the Indian Embassy in Doha. In the four years since work began on improving infrastructure in preparation of the Fifa-lead tournament, the total number of deaths is reportedly, 974. This news follows a report last month which revealed that 185 Nepalese workers died in Qatar, with over two-thirds of those deaths caused by sudden heart failure or workplace accidents. Nicholas McGeehan, a Gulf researcher for Human Rights Watch, said that, “these figures for Indian deaths are a horrendous confirmation that it isn’t just Nepalese workers who are dying in Qatar.” Qatar’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs commented, “clearly any one death in Qatar or anywhere else is one death too many – for the workers, for their families, but also for Qataris who welcome guest workers to our country to perform valuable jobs.” (Independent)


UK women in work at record numbers

Female employment in the UK has reached its highest level since records began, as the overall number of unemployed people fell again at the end of last year. Cuts to benefits and the rising pension age are thought to have contributed to the fall in unemployment. Official figures have shown that the number of female workers passed 14 million at the end of last year. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the proportion of women in work in December was also the highest since records began 43 years ago; reaching 67.2 percent, but still substantially lower than the male equivalent of 77.1 percent. Economists believe that recovery in the services sector has contributed to this rise, as well as in the retail and banking sectors, where jobs growth has been exceptional. Despite the improving jobs picture, the gender pay gap widened last year for the first time since 2008. Analysis of ONS figures suggested that the gap was 15.7 percent on average in December, or £5,000 a year for a full-time worker. (Guardian, Times*)


Sainsbury’s wine labels to display calorie counts

Sainsbury’s, one of Britain’s biggest supermarkets, is to add a calorie tally to wine labels to help consumers make “responsible” health choices. A study for the supermarket found that 85 percent of consumers did not know how many calories were in the average glass of wine and 63 percent did not consider wine when calculating up their calorie intake. The research also revealed that, while 74 percent of adults know their recommended daily calorie intake, 58 percent did not know the guidelines for daily alcohol consumption. Helen Buck, chair of Sainsbury’s responsible drinking steering group, said that, “it is clear from our research that shoppers are confused regarding the calories in alcohol. We hope that by clearly displaying this information on the bottle, we’ll be able to help our customers to make responsible choices more easily.” Public health minister Jane Ellison added, “the use of calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks is a key way the industry can help support responsible drinking. Clear labelling has an important part to play in helping customers make healthier choices.” (Guardian)


Red throated diver bird kills off second phase of wind farm                             

A planned expansion of the world’s largest wind farm has been abandoned because of the impact on the local population of red-throated divers; listed on the RSBP’s amber list for bird species at risk. The developers behind the £1.9 billion London Array had intended to add 100 turbines to the 175 already fixed to the seabed off the Kent coast. The expanded wind farm would have been able to provide power for 750,0000 homes. However, the consortium said that a study to prove that the expansion would not damage the protected birds’ habitat would take at least three years, and that it was unable to guarantee that the impact would be acceptable, so has cancelled the proposed second phase. Mike O’Hare, general manager for the project, said that, “Although initial findings from the existing Phase one site look positive, there is no guarantee that we will be able to satisfy the authorities that any impact on the birds would be acceptable.” (Times*, FT*)



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