Gary Barlow may be a national treasure, but this week we all learnt something about him that casts him in a different light. A tribunal ruled that Barlow, and many others, must re-pay millions of pounds of tax.
An MP called on Barlow to return his OBE. And then David Cameron went on TV to say he shouldn’t. To be honest, I don’t care too much about the honour, but I do care about the money.
I’m fed up with people moaning about tax and talking about our public services as if they’re a drain on our wealth. Public services are our wealth. They’re the thing that makes us prosper. And paying tax is the social agreement we all have with each other to chip into the pot. When you stash your money away, out of sight of HMRC, you’re breaking that agreement.
Gary Barlow may be a millionaire, but presumably he went to school, uses our hospitals and police and drives on our roads? Our taxes fund all of these public services. They’re the safety net that should ensure everyone in our society, whatever their needs, abilities or luck, has a decent quality of life. Without the rich paying their fair share, it falls to us to pay more than ours.
Next week we have the local and European elections where we decide who gets to have a say over how to spend what’s in the pot. The Green Party’s campaign has tried to highlight the growing inequality in our society.
Many people think this is inevitable. But it isn’t. And a more progressive tax system is one way to make our society more equal. It must be fairer and it must also be more transparent. Companies must tell us where they do business, the profits they make and what tax they pay. Despite promises of action from the other parties, companies such as Amazon continue to get away with paying just 0.1 per cent tax.
Mr Barlow may well be writing a large cheque to the Government sometime soon, but it’s time we took action to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.
Green Party County Councillor, Lancaster Central and North West Green Party Euro Candidate