So how’s the Fair Tax Mark doing?

This letter is in the Guardian this morning:

Next week the UK hosts a timely anti-corruption summit that will seek to nudge the world toward much-needed improvements in corporate transparency. As Fair Tax Mark certified businesses we applaud the UK taking the lead in establishing a public register of beneficial ownership, which will do much to tackle the corruption and tax avoidance connected with anonymous corporations. However, we would also like to see the government take affirmative action to ensure that such public transparency is extended to the UK’s overseas territories and crown dependencies – where so much concern rests following the disclosures within the Panama Papers.

Businesses must increasingly demonstrate that they are open and transparent about their tax affairs, and pay the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place. Clarity on beneficial ownership is crucial to this, and would level the playing field for responsible business practice.

Kim Coles Finance director, Lush
Ben Reid Chief executive, Midcounties Co-operative
Paul Ellis Chief executive, Ecology Building Society
Steph Gray Managing director, Helpful Technology
Vivian Woodell Chief executive, The Phone Co-op
Chris Dabbs Director of innovation, Unlimited Potential
Ramsay Dunning Managing director, The Co-operative Energy
Tom Stanley Founder, Urban IT Support
Ed Mayo Secretary general, Co-operatives UK
Matthew Bloch Managing director, Bytemark

That’s the full list of holders, isn’t it?

13 thoughts on “So how’s the Fair Tax Mark doing?”

  1. Bytemark are still in business? I’m really surprised. They tried to do more of a managed thing than raw Linux boxes and their control panel system was horrible.

  2. Have any of these companies ever declared a profit? Or at least, have they since they signed up for the tax mark? Lush certainly haven’t, they’re expanding Amazon-style.

  3. He’s made Double Figures at least! Wasn’t the target to get about 500 by this time?

  4. I think they’ve just announced number 20 in two years as a great achievement. Just 330 to go in 12 months to hit the business plan which I recall was-350 in 3 years (which doesn’t seem to be on the website anymore}

  5. There’s a list here:
    http://fairtaxmark.net/whos-got-it/

    You’d be annoyed to have paid and not to appear on the list, so it is fair to assume it is up to date.

    Still no transparency on the governance of the thing. What ensures the independence of assessors? What is the complaint process if you don’t get it? Unless answers to those questions can be publicly disclosed, it is just a bunch of mates handing out a mark to their mates, and withholding it from their non-mates.

    A racket to squeeze cash out of vain, smug virtue signallers.

    I suspect from his writings that he counted on it becoming a requirement for government tenders. Demand would pick up if he hooked that fish.

    He’d become the Sylvester McMonkey McBean with the machine to put the Stars Upon Thars (Dr Seuss – Sneeches).

    He didn’t count on the legal difficulties in requiring a specific mark in tenders (we can’t do it).

    Plus there isn’t much interest – I’ve got a gigs in a couple of local authorities at the moment (different parts of the country) and am reasonably connected with colleagues in other local authorities. Haven’t heard a peep about this internally.

  6. According to Companies House Kim Coles is not a director of Lush Cosmetics Ltd and Ramsay Dunning is not a director of Co-operative Energy.
    Midcounties Co-operative, Co-operatives UK, Ecology Building Society and Unlimited Potential do not file accounts with Companies House
    Helpful Technology and Urban IT Support each file “Total Exemption Small” accounts which do not include a P&L account
    Neither the name nor the number for The Phone Co-op is recognised by Companies House and its latest accounts are for 2012-3 (according to their link from Adrian’s link)
    Co-operative Energy and Bytemark Holdings each have a tax rate of less than 2% (no,I haven’t lost a zero I do mean < two percent).
    Only Lush deserves a "FairTax Mark"
    So how much is that letter worth?

  7. Bloke in Costa Rica

    That list does function as a handy aide-mémoire of businesses with which one should not, under any circumstances, enter into any sort of commercial relationship whatsoever.

  8. @ Paul Carlton
    Thanks – but that is *not* the company that has a “Fair Tax Mark”. I looked up “Lush Ltd” (of which she claimed to be a director) and Lush Cosmetics Ltd (the company that has a “Fair Tax Mark”.
    She is not what she says she is and I could not be bothered to do a search to find which of a million different possibilities is her real role.

  9. The “modest” 350 company target was made in their share offer document, gone from the FTM site but hosted at Ethical Consumer:

    http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/portals/0/downloads/fair-tax-mark-community-share-offer-28-april-20141.pdf

    “We have created a detailed business plan that proposes modest but steady growth to a turnover of £150,000 after three years (and having accredited and licensed roughly 350 companies). We have modelled this partly to look at the need for start up capital and cash flow in year one in particular. We do not, however, rule out the potential for much more significant growth.”

    One a day for the next year and they might get there!

    Still no-one can point to any winners of the free 25 Fair Tax Marks (that’s more than paid for in 2 years), so I assume they still can’t give it away.

    http://www.fairtaxmark.net/free-fair-tax-assessment/

    Lush fund Ethical Consumer, that fund FTM and run it for Ritchie so not too hard for them to get one.

    http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/researchservices/thelushprize.aspx

    And the free alternative? 142 people have signed it according to a new counter on the page! Is that all? It even gives a list of names! (There’s two Ritchies, Mrs. Ritchie and several of mine just to reduce it’s usefulness further!)

    http://www.fairtaxpledge.uk

  10. I was looking at the criteria for being awarded a Free Fair Tax Assessment. Certainly gives an insight to somebody’s view of the world.

    “We’ll be making the awards to companies in 5 categories:

    Bookshops,
    Record stores,
    Coffee shops,
    Co-ops,
    Other small businesses,”

    So the first three catagories are almost undetectably small parts of the economy, just happen to be in competition with two of a guy called Richard Murphy’s bête noires.
    Co-ops. Groups combine to sponge off of government & local authority funding.
    And the rest of the small business sector, provides a major chunk of the UK economy, gets listed as “Other”

    Strange set of priorities if you’re actually intending to sell your product across the latter category

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