Thank you to those who have contacted me about Amazon and concerns over workers’ rights, the environment, public finances, digital rights and fair markets.
I appreciate the concerns you raise. On workers’ rights, for instance, I note reports from the GMB union of conditions at Amazon warehouses. I believe these reports highlight the UK’s chronic failure to protect workers’ rights. It is therefore disappointing that the Government seems to have delayed its Employment Rights Bill. While this would not address all problems with our employment rights regime, it would provide a chance to push for all workers to be entitled to a basic level of support and protection, as well as greater rights for workers to address the imbalance of power in the workplace.
On tax and competition, meanwhile, I also share your concerns. It is not right that high street retailers face a higher tax rate than Amazon, even as it unfairly competes them out of existence.
While I welcome the introduction of the Digital Services Tax (DST) last year, I am concerned that it goes nowhere near far enough towards tackling the problems around taxing tech companies, including tax avoidance. It only raises £440 million in annual revenue, for example, when the UK loses £1.3 billion in corporation tax to the five biggest US tech giants.
Unfortunately, the Government last year rejected amendments to the Finance Bill that would have strengthened the DST and helped to tackle tax avoidance by businesses subject to it. Furthermore, it has since been reported that Amazon will not even have to pay DST on goods that it sells itself and will pass on to third-party sellers using its marketplace the DST it must pay on revenues it receives from those sellers.
The Government must do more to ensure tech giants such as Amazon pay their fair share of tax. At the same time, it should act to level the playing field for high street businesses by addressing the massive disadvantage they face on business rates compared to corporations like Amazon. We must also ensure that companies like Amazon are held to account on the highest possible environmental standards.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. I can assure you that I will continue to support calls for action on issues related to Amazon, including protecting and strengthening workers’ rights, tackling the scourge of poverty pay, establishing a level playing field between high street and online businesses, ensuring tech giants pay their fair share of tax, supporting public rights and protections over data misuse and tackling anti-competitive practices.