The Budget is due on March 21. Three years after the economic crash, ordinary people around the world are still paying the price of a crisis they did nothing to cause. The issues of tax evasion, mansion tax and 50p rates all jostle for attention, while bank bonuses are still a major concern. The Treasury is also aware that there is a lot of public support for a Robin Hood Tax.
Robin Hood’s merry band continues to grow! Their big idea, the Robin Hood Tax, could generate billions of pounds, even in the current economic climate to fight poverty in the UK and globally.
Wales’ First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM, is the latest to announce his support, the first government leader in the UK to come out in support of the tax. The tax is being championed by a growing number of European countries, led by France and Germany. President Sarkozy has just announced a French financial transaction tax, and this has now been adopted by the French National Assembly.
It has wider EU support. Algirdas Šemeta, European Commissioner responsible for taxation, recently said: “We can lead by example with the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT),” noting that 65% of the population in the EU is in favour of an FTT. She has also just visited the Lords telling them that the impact of a Robin Hood Tax would be “negligible”.
All this adds to the massive momentum generated in 2011 when 1,000 economists urged G20 countries to accept a similar ‘Tobin tax’. Bill Gates, alongside other leading financial actors, George Soros, Warren Buffet and the UK’s Lord Adair Turner, all stated their support. Actor Bill Nighy has been a prominent public supporter alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury. To date 14,574 people in the UK have contacted their MP to press for action.
It a cause worthy of all this support. A FTT or ‘Robin Hood Tax‘ is a tiny tax of (on average) 0.05% applied to all financial transactions which could raise up to $400bn globally to fight poverty and climate change. A tiny tax on the financial sector can generate £20billion annually in the UK alone. The impact would be incredible: applying the tax for just one minute could raise enough to vaccinate 1.5 million African children against meningitis.
Despite all this expert opinion and public pressure, the UK Coalition Government has so far opposed this tax. Liberal Democrats have been favourable in the past, Labour support it if applied globally. This position ‘yes- if global’ now seems to be a consensus between the three main parties. Global it might become as France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Argentina, South Africa and recently nine EU countries have asked the Danish presidency to put the FTT on the 27-country bloc’s agenda without delay.
A Robin Hood Tax on the banks could raise tens of billions to help protect public services, fight poverty and tackle climate change at home and abroad. Despite the official party position there a number of MPs who are supportive of this measure. The worldwide momentum for a Robin Hood Tax is growing. It can be achieved if we keep up the pressure as the Chancellor prepares for his next Budget – we need him to know how much support there is for a Robin Hood Tax on banks.
The run up to the Budget is a vital moment when campaigners can take action - to contact their MP, whether they have contacted them before or not. The online message that you send has been customised to allow for this. A letter now will be an important signal to them that people are still concerned about the Robin Hood Tax.
Ask your MP to support a Robin Hood Tax today – they could still join the merry band!
Roger James is a campaigner for Oxfam South West in Bristol