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MPs grill Yorkshire Water over failure to pay corporation tax
YORKSHIRE Water was accused of behaving like a “casino utility” as MPs prepared to grill senior executives over its failure to pay any corporation tax last year.
A group of Yorkshire MPs gathered in Westminster yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, September 3) to question the utilities company over its tax bill.
Yorkshire Water last year recorded profits of £186m and increased its water bill by roughly £12 per person, but paid no corporation tax.
The meeting was called by Ripon and Skipton MP Julian Smith. He said the company had done nothing illegal by minimising its tax bill, but said there was a moral question over its behaviour.
Speaking before going into the meeting, Mr Smith said: “We want to hear from them how they’ve managed to not pay any corporation tax, whether they see that as right, how they’ve done that and a number of other things that need investigation.”
He added: “I think people are appalled by it.
“Consumers are pretty sick of casino banks and in Yorkshire Water we have a casino utility I think.”
Mr Smith said he was working with the MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke, who has revealed how Britain’s privatised water firms have used legal loopholes to dodge tax.
He said the meeting would be followed up with a discussion with water regulator Ofwat and the treasury.
A spokesman for Ofwat said: “Tax policy and tax investigations are a matter for HMRC.
“As water companies rely on attracting private funding which is then paid back by customers paying their bills, it is important that companies maintain legitimacy with their customers over their charges and investments.
“Opaque financial structures do not help maintain that legitimacy. That’s why we have laid down the challenge to the sector to become more transparent.”
Yorkshire Water said it was happy to meet with MPs to discuss its accounts and added it invested more than £1m a day to improve drinking water quality, bathing water and flood protection.
It added the tax rules were designed by the government to encourage this type of infrastructure investment.
In a statement, it said: “As a wholly UK tax resident company, we pay our tax in full and in total compliance with HMRC rules so we are concerned that some MPs have raised questions about the amount of tax we pay.”
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