EXCLUSIVE: Virgin Healthcare has been exposed as a parasite on the NHS as a campaigner slams the firm as it's revealed it paid no corporation tax
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin healthcare group has not paid a penny in corporation tax while being handed £2billion worth of NHS and local authority deals.
Health campaigner Dr John Lister branded the billionaire’s firm “parasitic” over its involvement in UK health.
Virgin did not pay any corporation tax on its healthcare arm because it has consistently racked up losses since being created in 2010.
Dr Lister, secretary and health policy academic at the group Keep Our NHS Public, said: “Virgin continues to play a parasitic role in the NHS, fragmenting services and poaching NHS-trained staff and undermining nearby NHS trusts.
“This is made worse by the fact that the company pays no corporation tax and therefore only takes resources from the public sector while contributing nothing of value.
“The fact the firm is not making a profit suggests its continued involvement with the NHS is either based on ideological opposition to public services or a series of loss leader contracts hoping to force the prices up and cash in later.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth added: “Under the Tories, bucketloads of taxpayers’ cash has flowed to this outfit.”
Virgin Care has around 400 health and social care contracts across England, and treats around one million people. One of the big winners from NHS privatisation, it does everything from school immunisation programmes and dementia care to running GP surgeries and sexual health clinics.
The business employs more than 7,000 staff, including doctors and nurses. It is ultimately controlled by a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands tax haven, where Sir Richard mostly lives.
Virgin Care said it made combined group losses of £23.2million in the year to March 2019, while having a turnover of £290million.
Losses were in part due to “the costs of starting up and investing in growing the business”.
Virgin also said it put £60million in and had not paid a dividend.
The group’s biggest part subsidiary is Virgin Healthcare Services, which has a large number of contracts. Its turnover was £248.8million last year but it made a profit of £503,000.
However, a potential corporation tax bill of just under £96,000 was wiped out by losses made in other group companies.
The High Pay Centre think tank director Luke Hildyard said: “It is surprising it’s been nearly a decade and they haven’t made a profit.”
Virgin Group said: “Richard has had a home in the BVI for more than 40 years and has lived there full time for the last 14. The ultimate holding company of the Virgin Group is registered there to reflect that this is where Richard, its sole shareholder, is resident.
“I should emphasise, however, that all the Virgin Group’s operating companies, including Virgin Care, are based in the countries where they operate and pay taxes in those countries.”
Virgin Care chief executive Dr Vivienne McVey added: “The Virgin Group has invested more than £60million in our organisation since we started and this has enabled us to honour the important commitment we hold dear of providing care.
“And while we have not yet made a profit our aim is to make a small surplus in future years to allow us to continue reinvesting in high quality services.”
Virgin Care, which successfully sued the NHS for £2million after losing out on a health contract in 2016, said the £2billion of contracts was the potential maximum over the life of the awards.
A source insisted that, as and when corporation tax is due, it will be paid.