28 Nov 2013 10:42am

Tax avoidance top of public concerns over business

Worries about corporate tax payments has replaced remuneration as the top public concern about business behaviour

According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Mori for the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) , 37% cited “tax avoidance” as the main concern businesses needed to address, pushing remuneration out of the top place for the first time in six years.

The ability of employees to speak out about company wrongdoing was rated the third most significant concern, at 22%, with business attitudes to the environment and human rights coming in at 16% and 15% respectively.

The survey also shows an improvement in the proportion that think business is behaving ethically since last year. However over the last ten years there has been a rise in the proportion saying business are behaving less ethically now than they were a year ago.

The findings show that people aged 55 and above are more likely to think that business is not behaving ethically than younger people.

The study found that 37 %of respondents thought tax avoidance was the main concern that businesses need to address, compared with 30% citing remuneration. This pushed remuneration out of the top slot for the first time in six years.

Philippa Foster Bac, IBE’s director, said, “These results could indicate that business has clawed back some of the public trust lost in the wake of the financial crisis. But confidence remains fragile with a year on year increase in those saying that business is less ethical than it was ten years ago.

“Tax is also now clearly a reputational issue and has risen very rapidly up the scale. Trust cannot be taken for granted.”

The findings follow controversy this year over low tax bills paid by multinationals such as Amazon, Google and Starbucks, and a series of high-profile hearings by the Public Accounts Committee.

Helen Roxburgh


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