Osborne calls big businesses home to UK plc

MULTINATIONALS that have fled Britain’s punitive business tax regime gave a cautious welcome to yesterday’s Budget, with UBM and WPP both saying that the country is going in the right direction of travel.

Communications group WPP moved its headquarters to Dublin in 2008, but chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell said yesterday that the Budget was a positive move.

UBM went further, with chief financial officer Robert Gray saying: “We welcome the chancellor’s proposals for reform of UK corporate tax regulation and in particular the taxation of [foreign] income.

“In the light of the reform proposals, UBM is actively considering whether to relocate its corporate tax domicile to the UK.”

The most important issue for multinationals is the taxation of their profits made abroad, which the government has promised to reform.

Securing the return of either firm would be a coup for George Osborne, who wants to give a tangible sign that his reforms are working.

UBM’s pre-tax profit last year was £156.4m and it paid £23.5m of tax, while WPP made £851.3m in pre-tax profit and paid £190.3m in taxes.