Welwyn Hatfield Council roasted over £25k Starbucks spend

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 October 2012

A ROW has broken out after it emerged thousands of pounds of ratepayers' cash has been spent on coffee from a firm alleged not have paid corporation tax for three years.

Welwyn Hatfield Council forked out more than £25,000 on supplies from Starbucks for Humphrey’s Café at Campus West, WGC in 2011-12.

It has prompted calls for a review after an investigation by news agency Reuters claimed the multinational has paid just £8.6m in corporation tax since 1998, and has paid none since 2009.

Councillor Kieran Thorpe, leader of the Labour opposition group, said: “I think the council should be setting an example, and it doesn’t set a good example to residents who are struggling to pay their tax bills.

“They should certainly see this as a very big issue when they think who is supplying the coffee to the council in future.”

And he continued: “Councillors are quaffing coffee by a company which isn’t morally fulfilling its obligations in paying the tax it should.”

Despite the company’s alleged evasion a council spokesman said there were no plans to review who supplies the café.

“We are not a franchise of Starbucks, they are a supplier to us,” said a council spokesman,

“We simply purchase the ingredients, cups and so forth from the company and meet their promotional and marketing requirements in making the coffee in the manner they stipulate.

“The council made a business decision to use it in Humphrey’s coffee shop as it is a recognised quality brand.

“During the 2011-12 financial year we spent £24,634 with them.

“We do make a profit on each cup we sell, although we are not in a position to release a figure or our profit margin as this is commercially sensitive information.

“However, the profit from the sales at the Humphrey’s coffee shop are used to help offset the running costs of the building and the programme of events Campus West provides to the community.”

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