MP takes on company over tax

MP Julian Smith.
MP Julian Smith.

Ripon MP Julian Smith along with other Yorkshire colleagues will seek parliamentary time to debate why Yorkshire Water did not pay any corporation tax last year.

He said it was “pretty shocking” to hear senior executives from the foreign-owned utility firm give their explanations at a meeting in Westminster on Wednesday.

The executives set out their justification for paying out dividends to shareholders worth more than £250m while also hiking the average water bill by more than six per cent and not paying a penny in corporation tax

“It was disappointing,” said Mr Smith following the crunch talks which included around 10 Yorkshire MPs.

“We got an explanation of Yorkshire Water’s side of the story but we didn’t get any sense they were particularly concerned about it. It was fairly shocking from that point of view.”

Mr Smith said he does not dispute that Yorkshire Water is acting within the letter of the law but will now seek to bring parliamentary pressure on both the firm and its regulator, OFWAT, to address the situation.

In a statement released after the meeting, Yorkshire Water stressed it has always acted “in total compliance with HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) rules” and described the meeting as “constructive”.

It said: “We make a massive contribution to the regional economy through our investment, spending more than £1m every day to improve drinking water quality, bathing water quality and to help ensure communities are better protected from flooding.

“The tax rules were designed by Government to encourage such investment in infrastructure but if they wish to change these rules then we are happy to be part of any future debates.”