Press release: protesters occupying Vodafone stores over tax avoidance


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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@UKUncut

*Protesters occupying Vodafone’s flagship store on Oxford Street – happening now.[1]

* 10 actions taking place across the country including in central London, Cornwall and Manchester.[2]

* Over 45,000 people sign petition calling on Vodafone to pay up

* 80% of public think Government are ‘not doing enough to reduce tax avoidance’ according to YouGov. [3]

* Protest groups Focus E15 Mothers to join in ‘national day of action’ to highlight cuts to social housing.

Vodafone branches up and down the country are being occupied by anti-austerity group UK Uncut, in protest against the mobile giant’s tax avoiding practices. Protesters are throwing a ‘housewarming party’ in Vodafone’s flagship store on Oxford Street – it is being occupied by a group of single mothers and their children angry about tax avoidance and Government cuts leading to a social housing crisis. Mothers with buggies and disabled people are blocking the store’s doors while protesters put up bunting and turn the store into a ‘home’.

Protesters are demanding Vodafone pay the billions in tax owed to the public purse and that the government force corporations to pay up. UK Uncut says the protests highlight the current “social housing crisis”, which they say the Government are making worse by cutting housing benefits, slashing funding for affordable homes and failing to build social housing. Current estimates suggest that 1.6 million families are on the waiting list for social housing and that 50,000 people face eviction due to the bedroom tax.[4]

The protests tap into the growing anger of people unable to access suitable housing for their families. In London the Focus E15 Mothers campaign, who are known for occupying council offices and show homes in East London[5] and activists from Disabled People Against Cuts[6] have joined the protest.

Vodafone was the first company to be targeted in a series of high-profile protests by UK Uncut for avoiding a £6bn tax bill in 2010.[7] It was recently revealed that Vodafone have not paid any corporation tax in the UK since 2011 despite making a post-tax profit of £59.4bn this year.[8] The protests are taking place just six weeks before Vodafone’s AGM and less than a year before the general election in which the government’s record on tackling tax avoidance while slashing public spending will be centre stage.

UK Uncut activist Charley Dainty, 27, said “We’re here to demand that the Government stop tax dodging by the super-rich and that Vodafone pay up. Cameron and his millionaire mates in Cabinet are overseeing cuts to housing benefits, the bedroom tax and rocketing rents which are forcing people into desperate situations. Vodafone’s dodged taxes could pay for safe and secure housing for the people who need it most”

Jasmine Stone, a member of Focus E15 said: “We’ll be at the VodaHome action with UK Uncut because there is not enough social housing being built and there should be enough for everyone”

ENDS

Notes for editors

UK Uncut (www.ukuncut.org) is a grassroots movement taking action to highlight alternatives to the government’s spending cuts.

[1] 341-349 Oxford St, London W1C 2JE

[2] Actions are planned in Bristol, Cornwall, Grimsby, London, Manchester, Newbury, Norwich, Peterborough, Glasgow and St Albans. See http://www.ukuncut.org/actions

[3] http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/4wyibrfzi3/YG-Archive-140512-Barlow-Tax.pdf

[4] For information about the social housing waiting list see: http://www.ukuncut.org/blog/guest-blog-from-tuc and http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/aug/08/economy.housing

[5] http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/kate-belgrave/focus-e15-young-mothers-struggle-for-universal-housing

[6] www.dpac.uk.net

[7] UK Uncut first accused Vodafone of avoiding a £6bn tax bill relating to the purchase of German engineering firm Mannesmann in October 2010. At the time, the claim was dismissed by the company and HMRC as an ‘urban myth’. In 2011, however, a parliamentary committee said the deal ‘may have been illegal’ and could have been worth up to £8bn. The deal will now be investigated as part of the judge-led review of corporate tax deals struck by HMRC. See

– http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-1704527/Taxman-let-Vodafone-off-6bn-bill.html

– http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8875360/Taxman-accused-of-letting-Vodafone-off-8-billion.html

– http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/dec/06/hmrc-tax-deal-vodafone

[8] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1355daf4-db7f-11e3-b112-00144feabdc0.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/vodafone-courts-new-tax-row-with-transfer-to-luxembourg-haven-9504224.html