“Tax is the centre of the social contract” – SSE finance director

"Tax is the centre of the social contract" - SSE finance director

SSE's finance director Gregor Alexander explains why it was important for the company to receive a Fair Tax Mark - and why paying your fair share of tax is something to be proud of

“Tax is the centre of the social contract” – SSE finance director

SSE is the largest generator of renewable energy in the UK, transporting electricity to homes and businesses in the north of Scotland and south of England.

Unsurprisingly being in such a position requires significant capital expenditure. Over the last decade, SSE has invested an average of £1.5bn a year and we have just completed the largest ever private investment in Scotland in the shape of Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm.

At 588MW it’s producing enough zero carbon electricity to power 450,000 homes.

And in the north of Scotland we’ve invested £2.7bn in new infrastructure to connect 6,000 MW of renewable electricity, with the majority of the energy transported south to the populations of demand.

With 96% renewable energy on its electricity network, the north of Scotland looks very like the sort of grid we’ll need across GB to meet a net zero target in 2050.

What business must get right

With that scale comes significant environmental and social responsibility. To us – from top to bottom – there are basic principles that businesses must get right.

Firstly, the people who work for us – directly or in our supply chain – must be treated properly, given opportunity to progress and paid at least the real Living Wage. Last week, we also announced that we were one of the first organisations to seek ‘Living Hours’ accreditation – the positive antidote to exploitative zero-hour contracts and the gig economy.

Secondly, as the move to a zero-carbon economy gathers an ever-increasing pace, we must do all we can to protect and enhance the environments and communities in which our assets are built, maintained and operated.

Finally, we must properly connect with wider society. When we earn profit from our activities, we must pay our fair share of tax. Above all, tax is the centre of the social contract.

Businesses are simply groups of individuals – employees, managers and owners – and that collection of individuals benefit from the services of the state in the form of schools, hospitals, infrastructure and security.

It should go without saying that a healthy, vibrant public sector is good for business.  It is our duty – both as individuals and collectively through our organisations – to pay our fair share. That is why SSE is Fair Tax Mark accredited.

SSE was one of the first companies to achieve Fair Tax accreditation back in 2014, and we remain enthusiastic champions of it.

The accreditation has gone through rapid growth since then, and it is a credit to Fair Tax Mark as they have continued to push its merits to employers as the right thing to do.

I believe it is hugely important that this movement continues to grow and develop, as it seeks to create a culture of pride in tax. We will all do well if we have a vibrant mixed economy of large and small business, co-ops, third-sector and everything in between – contributing to and supporting a healthy public sector.

Values, such as those espoused through Fair Tax Mark accreditation, give a signal to the sort of economy and society we want to be, and create a platform for balanced, inclusive economic growth in every part of the British Isles.

And that is something SSE wants to be part of.

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