This Saturday UK Uncut will hold their biggest day of action yet against the coalition’s public sector cuts and wide-spread tax avoidance by the wealthiest in society.
Branded, ‘pay-day’, there will be at least 50 protests by the Big Society Revenue Customs taking place on high streets up and down the country as people expose the arguments behind the austerity cuts as lies. 1
Sir Philip Green and Vodafone are likely to remain the focus of the growing public anger against tax avoidance by multi-national corporations and extremely wealthy individuals, that is estimated to cost the public purse £25billion every single year. 2
In reference to Vodafone and Sir Philip Green, the call-out for action reads: “both have been shaken up by the protests so far, but on December 18th they will face protests on a scale they could not have imagined just a few months ago” 3
Each action has been organised autonomously by local people, often rapidly via Twitter and Facebook. Protests planned for tomorrow include pickets, sit-ins and flashmobs. There will be a disruptive tour of tax dodgers in Brighton and a ‘Monaco Grand Prix’ around Topshop in Oxford. In London, hundreds of protesters will hit Oxford Street. Divided into two groups, they will stage a ‘read in’ at Vodafone’s flagship store and a ‘sports day’ inside Topshop’s flagship store, to highlight cuts to local libraries and school sports. Philip Green’s £285m tax dodge could pay for two years of school sports and Vodafone’s tax dodge could pay for every single cut to local governments this year.
Protesters have even designed an iPhone app to help people angry at the cuts to locate their local tax avoider and join their nearest protest. 4
Just two weeks ago 23 protests were held on high streets across the country. On Oxford Street, Topshop’s flagship store was forced to shut-down, and in Brighton protestors super-glued themselves to the window display of Topshop, closing it for the day.
Sir Philip Green owns the fashion empire Arcadia, which spreads across 2,500 UK stores and includes top brands such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins. 5
Green’s empire Acardia is owned by Taveta Investments Limited – a holding company registered to a small office on the tax-haven island of Jersey.
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.
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 10 – 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.
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.
Steven Hall, 31, 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.”
The UK uncut movement started in October, when over 30 Vodafone stores were closed by ordinary people who blockaded and picketed the store’s entrances to stop trading 13.
Those protests were sparked after Vodafone 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. 6
When questioned about what the meaning of the BSRC, Steven said “HMRC is due to lose 13,000 jobs. 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 they won’t chase down tax avoiders, then we will. 15”
Rebecca Davies, 32, said: “£25bn will be lost to tax avoidance this year, which could pay for virtually all of George Osborne’s proposed cuts.”
“The argument that only way to cut the public deficit is to cut public services is a lie. The coalition is ideologically smashing a public sector that supports the poorest in society.”
Looking ahead to the 18th, she continued, “Ordinary people around Britain will stand up and show that they will not be lied to, and that we will not let these unnecessary cuts happen without a fight.”
For further comment:
UK Uncut: | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07591992825 |
Notes to Editor:
1 Details can be seen on the website ukuncut.org
2 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.
3 The call out can be read on the website ukuncut.org
5 www.arcadiagroup.co.uk/about/index.html Arcadia also own, Burton, Wallis, Evans and Topman.
6 The original investigation was completed by Richard Brooks, a former tax inspector, for Private-Eye, but has since been written about by other journalists.