LUDLOW MP Philip Dunne has raised concerns about hand car washes and the potential for some of them to be involved in exploitation and people smuggling.

A national body says the failure of revenue and customs (HMRC) to check up on these businesses is costing the country millions of pounds in unpaid taxes.

“The Car Wash Association (CWA)is disappointed to see that the Government has produced so little evidence to back up its claims that HMRC is enforcing tax compliance at hand car washes,” said Brian Madderson, Chairman of the CWA.

He was commenting on publication of the Government’s response to the Environmental Audit select committee report into the hand car wash sector. Mr Dunne is a member of the committee.

The Government is claiming that “HMRC investigates hand car washes across the UK to tackle these failings and prevent further tax losses to the Exchequer”.

“This does not reflect the reality reported to us by the police and automatic car wash operators.

“The police estimate is that there are up to 20,000 rogue hand car washes operating in the UK. If HMRC had caught up with even a fraction of these, it would be collecting over a billion pounds in taxes,” added Mr Madderson.

“The Government has produced no evidence to show it is collecting much tax at all from rogue hand car washes.

“We are being given words of reassurance, but what we need is firm action against the modern slave owners who evade taxes and exploit vulnerable workers.

“What action is the Government taking to deal with the problems of environmental damage from mishandling trade effluent caused by the 20,000 hand car washes in the UK that operate illegally?