Tag Archives: UK Uncut

UK Uncut and Boycott Workfare Demonstrations in Birmingham – Reports and Photos

dec8 011Yesterday demonstrations took place in Birmingham city centre as part of a national day of action called by UK Uncut and Boycott Workfare. Starbucks on Colmore Row and New Street were occupied in protest at tax avoidance which costs us £25bn each year, whilst Argos, Superdrug, Poundland and McDonalds were visited by people demonstrating against the use of forced unpaid workfare labour by these companies, and the work programme which reduces your chances of finding work.

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Students Slam Starbucks Vice President as “Prize Mug” As Company Dodges Paying UK Tax

Students at the University of Birmingham, along with members of the public, young and old, decided to embarrass Ian Cranna – Starbucks VP for marketing – yesterday by awarding him a golden mug before his speech. The mug was awarded for the company’s ‘mugging’ of the UK taxpayer. The VP Marketing was speaking at the University of Birmingham Business School as an engineering alumni – students wondered why someone from this particular company was invited to talk.

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UK Uncut Christmas Special

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the town,
Cash tills were ringing, snow falling down.
Big business is merry, and with good reason-
For it’s the busiest shopping day of the season.

But not every CEO should sleep snug in their bed,
As dreams of big profits dance through their head,
Because any tax dodgers with hope of good cheer:
UK Uncut know you’ve been naughty this year
.

Whilst the undeserving rich will be patting themselves on the back and awarding themselves huge Christmas bonuses, there are many people who will be struggling this season. And they’re not asking for much. Some pensioners will be wishing their Winter Fuel Allowance hadn’t been cut so they didn’t have to go cold. Many parents will wish their local Sure Start centre was still open so they had someone to look after the kids. Many disabled people will be wishing their welfare payments hadn’t been decimated so they could still make ends meet.

These wishes and many more could easily be granted if the government abandoned its brutal cuts agenda and instead made rich tax dodgers and banks pay what they owe.

On December 17th, with only seven shopping days til Christmas, join UK Uncut’s shut-down santas and occupy elves as we hit the Christmas high streets and make sure that a company that has been naughty goes without this year.

Via the Facebook poll, we’re going to decide together which high street target we should shut down. The company that wins the most votes online will be crowned UK Uncut’s Christmas Turkey and will be in for a roasting on December 17th.

Which tax-avoiding Scrooge or big-banking Grinch will you choose?

There’s a selection box of high street stores, hoping for huge sales this Christmas, who’ve been very bad. This year Vodafone paid a £6bn dividend to its shareholders, whilst still refusing to pay us the £6bn tax it owes us. Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfriges are all part of Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire Arcadia, but whilst they sell Christmas presents on our high streets, the profits go to Monaco. Boots dodged another year of tax by keeping their headquarters registered to a post box in Switzerland. And then there’s the big banks. Not only do banks like Barclays continue to receive huge taxpayer subsidies, but they also use tax havens to avoid paying their fair share back to society.

We won’t know the winner until a couple of days before the 17th, but it’s already time to think about how you’re going to shut down your local branch. Wish your Sure Start centre hadn’t closed? Grab the kids and turn the store into a Christmas creche. Wish your leisuire centre was still open? Hold a festive aerobics class. If your only Christmas wish is to see your local Women’s Resource Centre reopened, then tell the Government by reinstating it again in the chosen tax dodger or bank just down the road.

Birmingham will take join in this day of action. Meet at 2pm outside Moor Street Train Station. You could dress up in Christmas costume with presents to represent public services, or not dressup and be a hard working taxpayer who receives the presents.. but watch out for the tax dodgers, waiting to steal them from you!

Ho ho ho! Don’t forget to vote, and see you on the high streets!

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Alternatives: Close the £120bn Tax Gap

This post is another in our series exploring the alternatives to the cuts and austerity agenda of the ConDem coalition. In this post I will look at the tax gap, which costs the treasury an estimated £120bn every year, and what we can do to close this gap.

My expert witness for this is Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK. His Tax Justice Manifesto (PDF) outlines the scale of the problem and some ways in which this problem could be dealt with.

The tax gap comprises of three parts – tax avoidance (£25bn), tax evasion (£70bn) and uncollected tax (£25bn).

Tax avoidance is legal. It is defined as a scheme that has been setup purely for the purposes of shifting profit from one country to another, in order to pay lower rates of tax.

Tax evasion is illegal. This includes tax fraud, undeclared earnings and the purchase of smuggled tobacco or alcohol amongst other things.

Uncollected Tax is tax that has not been collected due to error or inefficiency on the part of HMRC.

UK Uncut activists in Birmingham protest at Vodafone's £6bn tax dodge

Of the three, it is tax avoidance that has come under the most scrutiny, thanks to the actions of UK Uncut, who have taken direct action by occupying high street stores around the UK to highlight the tax dodging of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals such as Vodafone and Philip Green.
Vodafone’s tax avoidance scheme is simple. When Vodafone UK purchased Mannesman (a German mobile network), it did so through a Luxembourg subsidiary. The effect of this is that profit that should be declared in the UK is in fact declared in Luxembourg. HMRC said that this was not a legal scheme, but instead of pursuing Vodafone for the full amount (£6bn according to Private Eye), they settled for just £1.2bn, thus allowing Vodafone to cheat nearly £5bn out of the UK taxpayer (the scheme ran for around 8 years).
Philip Green is one of the richest men in Britain. He runs the Arcadia group which owns high street names including Topshop/Topman, BHS, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Burtons. In 2005, having transferred ownership of the company to his wife, who lives in Monaco, Philip generously paid her a £1.2bn dividend, thus avoiding paying £285m in income tax. Mrs Green has never done a minutes work for the company that Philip runs. Had this been a small company, HMRC would look at prosecutions for revenue splitting, but not in this case.Just to make it clear what this means, Birmingham City Council is cutting £212m from its budget this year, at the cost of around 7,000 jobs, pay cuts for tens of thousands of workers and the closure of many services which support vulnerable people in this city. In just one year, Philip Green avoided more than that. Had he paid the tax, he would still have earnt around £900,000,000 that year.

Overall the level of tax avoidance, at around £25bn, could replace a years worth of cuts. In practice of course it would not be possible to get all of this money back (not least because you’d have to spend some money with HMRC to do so), but we could look at a net increase in income of at least £10bn if we genuinely sought to close the tax loopholes that allow this avoidance to occur.
Combined with increased money to tackle tax evasion, and to eliminate errors to reclaim that £25bn of tax that goes uncollected each year, we could seriously reduce the need for cuts to our services. The impact on the economy of effective tax rises would be less than that of spending cuts, and those people who rely on services would not see them disappear.

So, what is our government doing? They are cutting HMRCs budget. So much for that then.

You can find out more about the alternatives to the cuts by looking through our posts on the subject, or on the False Economy website.

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Fortnum145 Campaign Launches

A group supporting the Fortnum145 has launched today.

We have already stated our support for those arrested after taking peacefully protesting in Fortnum and Mason on March 26th, and would ask you all to share these links.

www.fortnum145.org is their website

Facebook page

@FM145 and #Fortnum145 on twitter

At least 11 of the 138 currently charged are from Birmingham, so we need to show support and solidarity for those who are working against the cuts.

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Support UKUncut Fortnum and Mason Arrestees

On Saturday March 26th, 145 peaceful protesters were arrested for conducting a sit in at Fortnum and Mason in Picadilly.  138 have been charged, including 11 people from Birmingham.  They are currently bailed to appear in court in London in May.

These charges – 94% of those brought after the day of demonstration against cuts – are politically motivated, according to UKUncut and came despite assurances from a senior police officer that the activists would not be arrested

Several unions and NGOs have written an open letter supporting UKUncut whose statement we agree with.

UKUncut have taken direct action against tax avoiding high street shops since October, and along with work by the Tax Justice Network and Tax Research UK have pushed tax avoidance right up the political agenda.  Tax avodiance costs the UK treasury around £25bn/year – enough to remove around 1/4 of the planned cuts.  This is almost entirely done by very wealth individuals and large multinational companies, who employ tax planners to devise convoluted schemes whose only purpose is to shift income and profits offshore to lower tax regimes.

Fortnum and Mason employs such a scheme to avoid paying around £10m of tax each year, which is why they were chosen by UKUncut for action on March 26th.

Birmingham Against the Cuts supports the activities of UKUncut, and would like to extend our solidarity to the 11 people who have been arrested from Birmingham, and the 127 others from around the UK.

We call for these politically motivated charges to be dropped, and argue that it is not in the public interest to spend the time and money taking 138 peaceful protesters to court.

You can help support them by adding your voice to the support campaign at www.fortnum145.org, or on Facebook

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