Could Bristol scrap an NHS tax avoidance rule?

Multinational companies that avoid tax could be allowed to bid to run NHS services in Bristol after local commissioners moved to scrap a national rule.

Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is proposing to get rid of a clause preventing companies paying little or no tax in the UK from successfully bidding to run public services.
The Group said it had taken the move in order to avoid legal challenges after its lawyers advised them the current rules were too ambiguous, leaving them open to legal challenges.

The move comes after Bristol CCG’s recent re-tendering of children’s services when a bid was submitted by Virgin Care; a company previously accused of having a structure that includes tax havens.

Virgin Care lost to a public and charity partnership but the commission denied that the current rules had been used to block any bidders in the past. Virgin Care denied making a complaint about the anti-tax avoidance clause and added that the company has always paid its UK taxes in full.

Union Unite has attacked the move by Bristol CCG, calling ‘Google-style’ tax arrangements for global companies paid by the NHS a “national scandal”.

Bristol CCG undetook a public engagement exercise on the changes and its GP membership was asked to vote on the new rules in March.

Milsted Langdon, which has offices in Bath, Bristol, London, Taunton and Yeovil, is experienced in advising on accounting and tax issues. For more information, please contact us.

Posted in Healthcare.