Scotland business

Google Europe boss calls for simpler tax system

Matt Brittin
Image caption Matt Brittin said Google was helping to tackle the digital skills shortage

The boss of Google in Europe has called for company tax rules to be simpler, while saying firms like his were boosting the economy in other ways.

Matt Brittin said the tech giant had now provided free digital skills training to 10 million people across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Big technology firms have been criticised by some who say they pay a small amount of tax in the UK.

Mr Brittin said Google would always follow rules on paying tax.

The UK government last year announced plans to make technology giants pay tax on sales generated in the UK, while the EU has floated similar plans.

'Creating jobs'

Speaking from the Google's Digital Garage free skills training centre in Edinburgh, Mr Brittin said on the issue: "Whatever the rules, we'll follow them.

"We want to make a big contribution. Tax is one way, but actually using our products and services to save you money, get new jobs and so on, is another.

"And the way in which we're reaching out across Scotland to help people with free digital skills training is a third way in which we're making a contribution."

Mr Brittin told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Globally, the way companies are taxed is being looked at and it needs to be simpler, it needs to be more intelligible to the man and woman on the street and we're really supportive of those kinds of reforms.

"Ultimately for companies what you want to do is get on with creating jobs "

Image copyright BW-PRO.COM
Image caption Google "digital garage" in Edinburgh is one of may outlets offering free digital skills training to anyone who wants it

The amount of tax Google pays in the UK has been rising.

Mr Brittin, also in charge of Google in the Middle East and Africa, said the company had, for example, trained 13,000 Scots to gain digital skills.

That has come amid concern about a Scottish technology skills shortage.

"The tech sector in Scotland is about 3% of the economy, but it's growing twice as fast as the economy at large," said Mr Brittin.

"What we're worried about is how can we help everyone. Half the planet is online, so if you sell something then you can reach 3.7 billion people.

"In the past, only the biggest companies can do that and now anyone with an idea and a smart phone can be a micro multinational."

He said: "We set out to train people in digital skills four years ago. We're announcing today that we have reached the target of training 10 million people across Europe the Middle east and Africa, and already half of them are reporting that they have got a new job, started a business or grown in their career as a result."

Mr Brittin added that Google was continuing to make sure it was using people's data "in very limited ways", amid on-going concerns about privacy.

"For example, if you search for 'coffee in Edinburgh' on your phone, you don't have to say where you are," he said.

"We think people need to be in control, and the controls need to be really simple."

For the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.

Related Topics