Why we care about Fair Tax

by Leeds Building Society

We recently sat down with Caroline Dale, Director of Finance Operations, to discuss why we’re proud to have our Fair Tax Mark.

“In 2018 we became the first national high street financial services institution to obtain the Fair Tax Mark and we’re proud to have been reaccredited every year since then.

This year we’re sponsoring the awareness week being run to highlight the benefits of contributing a fair amount of corporate tax and promoting wider support for the scheme from other businesses.

As well as the positive impact paying a fair amount of tax makes on the economy, public services and communities overall, there are multiple benefits for us as a Society to hold the Fair Tax Mark.

Living up to expectations

Firstly, it’s about meeting an expectation of members, colleagues and our other stakeholders.

As an organisation, we think about how we do business through three lenses: doing what’s right for our members, our colleagues and our communities. This underpins everything we do in delivering our purpose of putting home ownership within reach of more people, generation after generation.

Over three quarters (79%) of Leeds Building Society members* say they would trust an organisation with the Fair Tax Mark more than one without the accreditation, and 96% of respondents said payment of the fair amount of tax is integral to being a responsible business.

Aiding transparency 

Secondly, accreditations help us talk in a structured, clear way about what we’ve achieved. In the past we’ve prided ourselves internally on our ethical stance, but we haven’t always shared that as clearly or widely externally.

Whilst modesty is a virtue, we needed to recognise that in order for us to achieve our Purpose we need others to know about it too and to buy into it.

Holding the Fair Tax Mark means we can demonstrate our commitment to the wider world.

Our Director of Financial Operations, Caroline Dale

Ongoing improvements

But importantly, accreditations shouldn’t just be a rubber stamp, they should stretch us to do better in these areas.

Which brings us on to a third benefit: the annual reaccreditation process has been an opportunity to review how we do things and see whether there are further improvements we can make.

We’re a relatively simple business from a tax perspective - a lender based in the UK with no active sales happening outside our borders.

But it’s important we don’t get complacent. Reaccreditation is one way we can ensure we keep our focus on this, alongside working with our advisors to stay abreast of industry developments.

The right thing to do

Corporate tax rarely hits the headlines for perfect compliance but when practices deviate from what’s acceptable it’s rightly viewed unfavourably by customers and colleagues, as well as our investors and financial services regulators.

Paying a fair amount of tax and being clear about how we do that simply makes good business sense, as well as being the right thing to do.

And fair tax represents a mutually beneficial outcome, with members seeing the value in the tax we pay and the government benefitting from businesses like ours thriving, supporting jobs and home ownership.”

*A survey, undertaken through Leeds Building Society’s customer panel ‘TalkingPoint’ and broker panel ‘Intermediary TalkingPoint’, sought the views of 464 people in May and June 2019