Standing Up for Kings Norton Farmers Market in Parliament


On the 5th March, I held a debate in the House of Commons to ask the Government why two farmers’ markets in South Birmingham, including Kings Norton Farmers’ Market in my constituency, had suddenly lost their tax exemption – at the same time as huge multinational firms like Amazon, Google, Starbucks and Vodafone continue to get away with paying almost nothing.

These markets play a really important role in our community – Kings Norton Farmers’ Market hosts over 25 producers from within 40 miles of the city who bring fresh local produce into the city. It’s a wonderful way of bringing local people together every month.

The founders also give all profits from the market to local causes – ranging from planting flowerbeds to funding a new disabled persons’ access ramp at St Nicolas’s Church. Sadly, at the end of last year they had their tax exemption taken away by HMRC. This has restricted their ability to fund local projects.

Is this the Government’s idea of clamping down on tax avoidance? At the same time as Kings Norton farmers market lost their exemption, HMRC created a special low rate of corporation tax for multinationals, which has actually made tax avoidance easier.

Instead of forcing multinational firms to pay their fair share, the Government seem to be clamping down on small community businesses – in this case, one that donates all of its profits to our local community. Ministers have their priorities seriously skewed.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee in the House of Commons, summed the problem up well when she said “HMRC has not clearly demonstrated that it is on the side of the majority of taxpayers who pay their taxes in full … It pursues tax owed by the smaller businesses, but seems to lose its nerve when it comes to mounting prosecutions against multinational corporations.”

I was very grateful for the opportunity to raise this issue in Parliament – and stand up for my local farmers’ market. You can read my full speech here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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