Michael Gove vows to clampdown on water companies using offshore tax havens
Michael Gove has pledged to get tough on privatised water companies using offshore tax havens to drive down their tax bills.
The Environment Secretary said it was not right for firms with a "natural monopoly" to try to exploit loopholes in the tax system.
He told the Sunday Times he had already discussed the issue with the head of regulator Ofwat, Jonson Cox.
“I don’t think it’s right that privatised utilities, which have a natural monopoly, should use offshore tax structures which have rightly come under criticism from the public," Mr Gove said.
“One of the things I have said to Jonson is that we need to make sure that everything associated with Defra meets high ethical standards.
“Water companies have a responsibility not just to play their part in making sure we’re ready for floods but also to behave in a responsible fashion. I don’t believe it’s appropriate for companies to operate in the way they have in the past.”
The minister suggested he would be willing to give Ofwat stronger powers to clamp down on tax avoidance.
“The regulator has a responsibility to safeguard the public interest. If he needs more, I’ll do everything possible to back him up,” he said.
“I will back him every step of the way in any action he feels he needs to take.”