Oxfam reminds chancellor why a Robin Hood Tax is vital

By staff writers
24 Mar 2011

Responding to Chancellor George Osborne's budget yesterday, Oxfam has highlighted once again the need for a proper financial transaction tax.

The respected charity’s director of campaigns and policy, Phil Bloomer, commented: “More and more poor people in this country are being forced to choose between feeding their families and paying their bills as food prices push up the cost of living and cuts in services and welfare bite."

Bloomer continued: “If we really were all in this together, the Chancellor would be working to defend our welfare system and ensure that everyone contributes their fair share to protecting public services which are particularly important to the poorest."

“A Robin Hood Tax on the financial sector that was a major cause of the current problems would enable the Government to help poor people at home and abroad who are suffering due to an economic crisis they did nothing to cause.” he added.

Supporters of all political parties insist banks should pay to repair the damage caused by the economic crisis and only one in nine of the British public believe they have paid back enough, a poll published on 21 March, two days before the budget, shows.

The poll of 2,226 adults by YouGov for Oxfam reveals that 87 per cent of Conservative voters, 91 per cent of Labour voters and 93 per cent of Liberal Democrats believe that “banks, hedge funds and financial institutions have a responsibility to help repair the damage their actions caused”. More than half of supporters of all the main political parties strongly agreed with the statement.

The Robin Hood Tax coalition of development agencies, trade unions, humanitarian organisations, think-tanks and social justice groups is campaigning for a tax on financial transactions (FTT) to protect public services and help poor people at home and abroad hit by the economic crisis and climate change.

More than half of those polled (51 per cent) supported a Robin Hood Tax to protect public services and tackle poverty at home and abroad. More supporters of each of the main political parties supported the proposal than opposed it. Overall, fewer than one in five people (19 per cent) were against a Robin Hood Tax.

Polls conducted at the same time in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, also showed majority support for financial transaction taxes.

Max Lawson, Oxfam senior policy adviser, said: “This poll clearly shows the government’s attempts to draw a line under the issue of bank profits and bonuses has failed.

“People across the political spectrum want our politicians to bring banks to heel and make them pay to repair the damage their actions inflicted on millions of people here and in poor countries.

“Public anger at banks will not subside until they see the City of London pay its fair share.”

A Robin Hood Tax on shares, bond, currency and derivative transactions between financial institutions could raise £20 billion in the UK. The UK already has a stamp duty of 0.5 per cent on shares which raises £3 billion-a-year.

The campaign is seeking to close a loophole which allows traders to avoid the tax by using derivatives. Closing this loophole - a move advocated by the International Monetary Fund in a paper published earlier this month - would raise at least £3 billion.

There is growing momentum behind a European Robin Hood Tax with the idea expected to be discussed by European Union leaders when they meet in Brussels on Thursday. Earlier this month the 17 countries in the Eurozone agreed to explore the introduction of an FTT at Euro area, EU and global levels. This came just days after the European Parliament backed a Europe-wide Robin Hood Tax.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said creating a coalition of countries willing to implement an FTT for development and climate change will be a key priority for his country’s year as chair of the G20.

Polls commissioned by Oxfam in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands show that at least four fifths of people in each country, ranging from 82 per cent in the Netherlands to 90 per cent in Spain, believe financial institutions should repair the damage their actions caused.

Oxfam's Lawson said: “This poll shows that a Robin Hood Tax on banks’ financial transactions would be the most popular tax in Europe’s history.

“People in the UK and across Europe clearly want David Cameron and his fellow leaders to join President Sarkozy’s coalition of the willing and help people at home and millions abroad forced into poverty by a crisis they did nothing to cause,” he concluded

Ekklesia is a member of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign: http://robinhoodtax.org/

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