AN EVESHAM Methodist minister has used an appearance at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton to call for tax reforms to help tackle the growing wealth inequality which has led to 14 million people in Britain living in poverty.
Rev David Haslam MBE, founder of the group Church Action on Tax Justice, argued another £90billion could be raised by the Exchequer to spend on public services if capital gains – profits made on the sale of assets such as shares, precious metals and property – were taxed at the same rate as earned income.
Speaking during a debate on the economy, Rev Haslam labelled unfair taxes as ‘anathema to British values’ and said tax was a ‘moral issue’.
He demanded the change to Capital Gains Tax as well as a new ‘wealth tax’ on land, property or inherited wealth.
He also called for greater transparency on the tax affairs of large corporations and a crackdown on the use by the wealthy of trusts registered in tax havens to avoid paying their fair share.
Speaking outside the conference hall, Rev Haslam said: “In my 50 years as a Methodist minister I have never seen such inequality in this country as we have today.
“There is no question that tax is a moral issue. It is simply unacceptable that 14 million people in Britain are living in relative poverty, while the richest 1,000 citizens increased their wealth by £50billion last year.
“How can it be considered fair a nurse or teacher is taxed at a higher rate on their income than a billionaire profiting from the sale of property or gold? It is time to level the playing field.
“And we must also insist that large corporations, many of whom use loopholes and clever accounting to pay little or no UK tax, are forced to pay their fair share too.
“Instead of creating more foodbanks we must tackle the inequality which leads to working people being forced to rely on their generosity.”