So PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) donated £386,605 to the Labour party in the last quarter of 2014. This is the biggest non-union donation made to the party in the quarter.
This is particularly embarrassing for Ed Miliband’s party as recently a report by Margaret Hodge, the Labour chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, found the accounting giant to be participating in “nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale”.
The report found that PwC has advised clients to cut corporation bills by setting up bases in Luxembourg.
Hodge said last week: “The Conservatives took money from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) when they were in opposition, the Labour Party does and probably the Liberal Democrats too. I think that’s inappropriate, I wouldn’t do it.”
In the final quarter of 2014, the Labour party reported it raised a total of £7,163,988.
Apart from PwC, the party also received donations from UNISON, Unite and GMB that donated £1.38m, £1.33m and £1m respectively.
Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party, called for a “radical change in the funding of political parties in Britain”.
She said: “For too long now the issue of party funding has been kicked into the long grass by the establishment parties at Westminster.
“It is abundantly clear that urgent reform is required to restore confidence in our scandal-ridden funding system.
“To cut the rot of vested interests from our politics we should move towards a system of state funding for political parties.”
A Labour party spokesperson said: “PwC have provided long standing staff support to all three major political parties on a non-Party basis, as happened for the Conservatives and Lib Dems before the last election.
“Given the complexity of government decisions in areas such as tax policy – and that opposition parties do not have significant access to civil servants – the support provided by organisations such as these helps ensure that there is better scrutiny of Government policy.
“The secondments provided by these companies are often relatively newly qualified staff. Secondees do not influence opposition policy decisions. Where organisations provide staff to support research and analysis for opposition parties it is right that these are declared – as currently happens – in the Register of Members’ Interests.”
Here’s PwC’s response to the story:
“PwC has no political affiliation. Our people provide limited and fully disclosed technical support to the main political parties in areas where our expertise and knowledge of the business environment can help them better understand technical matters and the consequences of their policy proposals. We do not develop policy on their behalf. Areas of assistance may include observations on the improvement of legislation or proposed legislation and the exchange of information relevant to effective policy development.
“All of the support we provide to the political parties is recorded and reported to the Electoral Commission (www.electoralcommission.org.uk), which publishes a detailed breakdown of the work undertaken and the amount that would otherwise have been charged to the political party (as reported to the Electoral Commission).
“Over the years we have supported requests from each of the main political parties. Throughout this period the trend has been that we have provided more hours to the opposition parties as they have less support infrastructure.”