UKUncut: Next wave of actions announced

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UKUNCUT NEXT WAVE OF DIRECT ACTION AGAINST AUSTERITY CUTS

SIR PHILIP GREEN IS NEXT TAX AVOIDANCE TARGET

Day of action this Saturday 4th Dec to include Sir Philip Green beside Vodafone as the focus of public anger

  • UKuncut launches 'Big Society Revenue and Customs'
  • Announcement comes on the third day of national student action against fees and cuts

UKuncut - the group that recently targeted Vodafone - [1] are today announcing that in addition to Vodafone, Sir Philip Green and his retail empire will be a target for nationwide tax avoidance protests across the christmas period, starting this Saturday.

Sir Philip Green is the boss of Arcadia which is one of the largest fashion empires in the UK, with 2,500 stores across brands that include Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins [2]. Acardia is owned by Taveta Investments Limited, which is registered to a small office on the tax-haven island of Jersey [3]. 

Sir Philip Green is not however the official owner of Taveta Investments. Instead, the owners are his wife and immediate family, who reside in Monaco [4]. 

Monaco is of course famous for its 0% income tax. As a result, when Sir Philip Green - the 9th richest man in the UK with wealth estimated at £4.4bn in 2008 [5] - in 2005 made the largest single dividend payout in UK corporate history to his wife of £1.2bn, he avoided paying a reported £285million in tax to the British public purse [6].

Amid criticism from key MPs, Sir Philip Green was also asked by the coalition government this year to advise them on austerity and cuts within the civil service [7].

Daniel Garvin, 26, said "Philip Green is a multi-billionaire tax avoider, and yet is regarded by David Cameron as an appropriate man to advise the government on austerity. His missing millions need to be reclaimed and invested into public services, not into his wife's bank account."

UKuncut are also today launching the 'Big Society Revenue and Customs' (BSRC) [8], following the announcement that HM Revenue and Customs faces thousands of job cuts following a 15% cut in its budget [9].

Commenting on the launch of BSRC, Daniel Garvin said: "David Cameron wants ordinary people in their spare time to carry out vital state run services that have been cut, so this is exactly what we're doing. If HMRC won't chase down tax avoiders, then we will."

The first, in what is expect to be a series of actions against Philip Green and Vodafone by the BSRC across the Christmas period, will take place this Saturday, on high streets across Britain [10]. 

This follows on from nationwide protests against the communications giant, Vodafone, that resulted in over 30 of its stores being closed by ordinary people who blockaded and picketed its entrances to stop trading [11]. 

The protests were sparked after the corporation reached a ‘settlement’ on a long standing tax dispute with HMRC earlier this year, following the change in government. Some experts believe the deal meant that Vodafone saved up to £6bn in tax [12]. Rebecca Davies, 32, said: "The cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our society the hardest are based on ideology, not necessity. There is an alternative."

"the tax gap in the UK is an estimated £120bn [13], £25 billion of this down to tax avoidance by extremely wealthy individuals and big business [14], while the government is barely lifting a finger to stop it." Looking ahead to the weekend she continued, "this Saturday, and across the Christmas period, ordinary people around Britain will stand up to show that we will not let these unnecessary cuts happen without a fight."

Notes to Editor:
[1] Details can be seen on the website http://www.ukuncut.org.uk
[2] http://www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/about/index.html  Arcadia also own, Burton, Wallis, Evans and Topman.
[3] http://www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/about/index.htmlAnd the office in jersey was shown by Channel 4's Dispatches broadcast on Monday 18th October.http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-72/episode-1
[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2004/nov/03/money
[5] The Sunday Times Richlist from 2008: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_Times_Rich_List_2008
[6] http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2010/08/13/sir-philip-green-the-wrong-man-to-head-a-review-of-public-spending/http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/analysis-the-rich-get-richer-in-poor-old-britain-470417.htmlThis independent article states: when Sir Philip Green paid his divident he financed it by taking out a loan. Although this is a common form of financial engineering in privately owned companies, it had the benefit of cutting Arcadia's corporation tax bill, as the interest charges on the loan could be offset against profits. In this way, wealth was simply being redistributed from taxpayers to Mr Green's family.
[7] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/13/philip-green-eficiency-savingshttp://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/19/philip-green-liberal-democrats-tax
[8] Please see www.ukuncut.org.uk for a full explanation on the thinking behind the BSRC.The BSRC logo is also available to download on the website.
[9]http://www.accountancymagazine.com/croner/jsp/Editorial.do?channelId=-305535&contentId=1707614&Failed_Reason=No+BVCookie+present+to+retrieve+the+session.&Failed_Page=/jsp/Editorial.do&BV_UseBVCookie=No
[10] UCL Occupation Students yesterday blocked the entrance to TopShop, linking their tax savings to the cuts in education.http://ucloccupation.wordpress.com/
[11] Please see www.ukuncut.org.uk for details
[12] The original investigation was completed by Richard Brookes, a tax inspector, at Private-Eye, but has since been written about by other journalists.http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_backhttp://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=514832&in_page_id=2http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/vodafone-tax-evasion-revenue-customs
[13] Richard Murphy, a long standing and respected campaigner on the issue of tax justice has produced a report stating that £120bn is the tax gap to britain.http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/features/2010/10/there-is-an-alternative/
[14] Richard Murphy, a long standing and respected campaigner on the issue of tax-avoidance has produced a report stating that 25bn is lost to the public purse by tax avoidance. £13bn through individuals. £12bn through large corporations.http://www.tuc.org.uk/touchstone/Missingbillions/1missingbillions.pdf

 

Direct Action and Civil Disobedience

In the last few weeks, the phrases direct action or civil disobedience have been talked about a lot. The media have treated them like strange foreign terms, reporters have hidden them in scare quotes and TV news anchors have raised a sceptical eyebrow when forced to say them. They like to pretend that civil disobedience is an unfamiliar, sightly wacky, fringe activity engaged in only by ‘dangerous anarchists’ and those they have led astray.

The truth is that direct action is a tactic as old as protest itself - it has been central to virtually every major progressive advance in recent history. At its simplest, direct action just means making change for yourself, rather than asking your political representatives to do it for you. Sometimes this might mean breaking the law, other times it may not.

100 years ago the suffragettes stormed parliament; half a century ago Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus; in the 1980s people dug up sports pitches in protest against South African apartheid. If we are going to win the battle against austerity- and we can win - then strikes, occupations, sit-ins, blockades and tactics that we haven’t even dreamed up yet must be central to our campaigns.

Direct action is about personal empowerment. If you are thinking about coming on Saturday or organising an action yourself, remember that no-one will tell you what to do. There will be no officials in yellow bibs guiding you. You will make decisions for yourself. There will be many ways you can contribute, including handing out leaflets to passers-by, and it is important that you only do what you feel comfortable doing.

However you choose to engage, you will be helping to make corporate tax avoiders pay. See you on the high streets.

Arcadia-medium

Philip-green-medium

New target for Dec 4th day of action is Sir Philip Green

When this government let Vodafone get away with not paying a £6bn tax bill earlier this year they sent a very clear message to UK citizens: we are not all in this together. Ordinary people must accept savage public spending cuts, whilst rich corporations can avoid paying billions and billions in tax.

It was not a one off. This government has slashed jobs at HM Revenue & Customs, making them impotent in the face of corporate tax avoidance. This certainly isn’t a money-saving measure: every pound invested in investigating tax avoidance brings £60 back to the public purse.

There can only be one explanation. David Cameron and his cabinet of millionaires must have decided that collecting tax from the rich is just another one of those pesky features of bloated big government. Like education, libraries, care for the elderly or disabled, creative arts, sports provision and even policing maybe tax collection is just another vital public service that would be best left to volunteers. In this spirit we are forming the Big Society Revenue and Customs (BSRC). Staffed by armies of citizen volunteers we will replace the HMRC and, in our own unique way, make sure that corporate tax avoiders pay.

Already, hundreds of people have hit the high streets in cities across the country to protest against Vodafone’s £6bn tax-dodge. In an incredible display of co-ordinated, spur-of-the-moment action around 30 Vodafone stores were blockaded and forced to close by angry citizens. “If you don’t pay your tax,” they chanted, “we’ll shut you down.”

This Saturday December 4th we will be taking to the high streets once again to escalate our action against Vodafone and take on a brand new tax-dodging target. As announced by the Guardian today, the new target is Britain’s most notorious tax-avoider, Sir Philip Green, and his vast retail empire. We need you!

On this website you will find all the information about both targets, all the resources you need to stage a protest, ideas for creative action, and most importantly the action centre, where you can join or organise you local action.

And if you find a moment to spare, go to the No. 10 website and nominate us for a Big Society Award. We think we’re all going to deserve it.

Get prepared. Get excited. See you on the high streets.

Links:

Link_go UKUncut