January 27, 2020 10.47 am This story is over 51 months old

‘But your website’s hosted by Amazon’: Council scrutinised over ‘tax conduct’ motion

The motion called on the council to “lead by example”

A City of Lincoln Council motion to distance it from companies criticised for not paying the right tax has been accused of “backfiring” after it was revealed the authority’s website is hosted by Amazon.

The Labour-led motion last Tuesday called on the council to “lead by example” and demonstrate good practice in its tax conduct.

This included ensuring contractors and suppliers paid their taxes fairly and did not use practices such as off-shore trusts and companies and not-for-profit structures to reduce their payments.

It demanded clarity on the “ultimate beneficial ownership of our suppliers and their consolidated profit and loss position”.

However, Conservative councillors have pointed out the authority’s website is hosted by Amazon.

Deputy leader of the Conservatives at City of Lincoln, councillor Thomas Dyer. Photo: Sean Strange

Conservative group deputy leader Thomas Dyer said: “We were against the motion on the basis it was virtue-signalling. Really the authority has got no power to do anything.

“They were trying to make a political point but it’s backfired because they spend some money per year having Amazon host their servers.”

The tech giant’s tax practices have previously been called in to question with campaign group Fair Tax Mark in December accusing it in national media of being the worst for “aggressive” tax avoidance.

In 2018/19, the company paid a total of £220 million in direct taxes in the UK despite its total revenues amounting to £10.9 billion.

Councillor Dyer questioned whether the contract would have to be changed, and, if so, how much would have to be spent.

Council leader Ric Metcalfe. Photo: Connor Creaghan for The Lincolnite

Labour Leader of City of Lincoln Council Councillor Ric Metcalfe, however, said the authority had “no direct contract or dealings” with Amazon.

Instead, he said the website had been redesigned with the assistance of software company Jadu who host the data in the UK on servers hosted by the multi-national technology company.

“The motion passed at council acknowledges that we will do whatever we can, wherever possible, to stand up for responsible tax conduct. Tax enables us to provide services and helps policing and defence to take place,” he said.

“The motion will ensure our dealings are with companies who pay their proper share of tax, but the real impact will be gained when central government intervenes and penalises those businesses with poor tax conduct.”

Other local authorities in the county also list Amazon as the host of their websites, including Conservative-led Lincolnshire County Council.

Lincoln has a number of local hosting companies like Jolt, who also host Stonebow Media’s publications, The Lincolnite and Lincolnshire Reporter.

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