Scottish Finance Secretary Supports Robin Hood Tax

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

21st Jun 2012

The Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has vowed to promote the Robin Hood Tax and has sharply criticised the UK Government over the issue.

The Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has vowed to promote the Robin Hood Tax and has sharply criticised the UK Government over the issue.

Mr Swinney met with Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, and representatives of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, the STUC, NUS Scotland and the Poverty Alliance.

During the meeting he branded the UK Coalition's steadfast opposition to the tax as "unproductive" and "unconstructive" and vowed to adopt a different approach.

The campaigners urged Mr Swinney to champion the measure - which would raise billions of pounds to tackle poverty at home and abroad, and climate change.

Mr Swinney promised to work with the Robin Hood Tax coalition to build international agreement around the measure in the context of Scottish Government moves to change the nature, focus and purpose of banking.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "We welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to facilitate movement and progression on a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT).

"We welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to facilitate movement and progression on a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT).

"Europe is building a partnership of progressive governments prepared to take action. We look forward to the Scottish Government actively supporting these efforts."

On Monday, Oxfam Scotland revealed a majority of Scottish MSPs support the tax - echoing the findings of the charity's poll showing 62% of the Scottish public also back it.

Mr Swinney's comments come on the eve of tomorrow's European Finance Ministers' meeting in Luxemburg.

The finance ministers' meeting and next week's gathering of European Heads of State are expected to break the gridlock caused by UK opposition to an EU-wide FTT.

A coalition of willing countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, are expected to press ahead with plans for an FTT which is being blocked at an EU-27 level by the UK.

David Hillman, spokesperson for the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said: "Given the progress that is likely to happen on the Robin Hood Tax in the next few days in Europe we welcome the Scottish Government's support and their commitment to encourage new countries to sign up as soon as possible."

"Given the progress that is likely to happen on the Robin Hood Tax in the next few days in Europe we welcome the Scottish Government's support and their commitment to encourage new countries to sign up as soon as possible."

In April, the First Minister Alex Salmond signalled his support, branding the tax "such an attractive idea" and vowing to "speak up in favour of the concept".

Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary at the STUC, said: "The systemically dangerous high frequency trading that will be most affected by an FTT is highly concentrated in the City of London.

, said: "The systemically dangerous high frequency trading that will be most affected by an FTT is highly concentrated in the City of London.

"The STUC is convinced that an FTT should hold no fears for Scotland; indeed, the long-term effect is likely to be significantly positive as resources shift from socially useless financial activities to productive economic sectors."

A global Robin Hood Tax - set at an average rate of just 0.05% on financial transactions such as derivatives, bonds and foreign currency - could raise £250 billion a year. This equates to just 50p on every £1000 traded - compared to VAT at £200 per £1000 - and would not apply to retail banking.

In the UK alone, extending the existing tax on share transactions to bonds, currencies and derivatives could raise at least an extra £20bn.

Robin Parker, President of NUS Scotland, said: "The Robin Hood Tax would be an opportunity to make the impact of the financial crisis much more fairly balanced, away from ordinary people and students who didn't cause the crisis, and back on to the casino bankers who did.

"There is wide-spread support amongst European governments for the Robin Hood Tax, and we're delighted to hear on this, as on other issues like keeping education free of tuition fees, the Scottish Government want to be aligned with other progressive European countries."

The Robin Hood Tax has won influential supporters at home and abroad including Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who sits on the Scottish Government's Council of Economic Advisers. It is also supported by the billionaire businessman Bill Gates, the Vatican, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the investor Warren Buffett and over a thousand economists.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said: "A Robin Hood Tax can play a significant role in addressing poverty. If Scotland is to meet its targets to reduce poverty by 2020 a Financial Transactions Tax must be part of the mix to meet that goal. Scottish Government support highlights the growing consensus around this policy."

Find out more about the Robin Hood Tax

Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

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