Press release: UK Uncut to shut down high street tax dodgers this Saturday 17th December

Posted on Thu 15th Dec 2011, 10:24pm
UK UNCUT TO SHUT DOWN HIGH STREET TAX DODGERS THIS SATURDAY 17th DECEMBER

For immediate release
Tel 07415063231
Email ukuncut@gmail.com


UK Uncut, the anti-austerity direct action group [1], will shut down scores of high street stores of tax dodging companies across the country this Saturday 17th December, with Vodafone at the top of its list of targets.

Thousands of supporters voted in a Facebook poll [2] to decide which 'tax-avoiding Scrooge or big-banking Grinch' should be 'crowned UK Uncut’s Christmas Turkey', the headline target for the day [3]. After a tense run-off, Vodafone pipped Sir Philip Green's Arcadia empire to the 'prize' of bearing the brunt of activists' ire.

People from Glasgow to Poole [4] will hit high street stores to demand the government collects the tax avoided by corporations and rich individuals instead of slashing public services. In London, protesters will stage a 'flash freeze-in' in the huge Topshop on Oxford Circus before donning UK Uncut-branded Santa suits and heading to Vodafone's flagship store on Oxford Street [5].

The nationwide day of action comes ahead of a report next week by parliament's Public Accounts Committee which is expected to be highly critical of the way HMRC struck deals with multinational corporations allowing them to avoid billions of pound in tax [6]. The report will pave the way for a National Audit Office investigation into ten large corporate tax deals, including Vodafone's let off of between £6-8billion [7].

UK Uncut supporter Daisy Cooper, 26, said: "Over the past 14 months, direct action by UK Uncut has put the issue of tax avoidance on to the political agenda with the head of HMRC forced to retire due to the dodgy deals he's struck. In the words of a Labour MP uttered just days ago: "Cosy tax deals between the government, the banks and other global corporations cannot go unchallenged.". The government's claim that 'there is no alternative' to the cuts has been exposed as a lie."

Rachel Stevens, 22, who will be taking part in the 'Freeze-In' in London, said: "Thanks to a combination of savage welfare cuts, reductions in the winter fuel allowance and outrageous profiteering from the big energy companies gone unchecked by the government, one county estimates its seasonal death rate could jump 20% as temperatures plummet. The government tell us they have no alternative to letting people freeze. It's a lie. Here's one alternative: collect the tax avoided by corporations and rich individuals, starting with Vodafone's £6bn."

Notes to editors:

[1] The day of action will see UK Uncut return to the high streets for the first time since May. Since that time, the group has closed Westminster Bridge in protest the government's NHS reforms, helped give birth to the Occupy movement, staged a creative intervention of a speech by HMRC boss Dave Hartnett with over 12,000 views on Youtube (Hartnett recently took unexpected 'retirement') and supported the public sector strikes of 30 June and 30 November. See http://www.ukuncut.org.uk
[2] http://www.facebook.com/questions/274984065882862/
[3] http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/christmas-special
[4] http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions
[5] The 'freeze-in' will start at 1pm on the ground floor of Topshop's Oxford Circus store. See http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions/772 for full details
[6] http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3258754.ece
[7] UK Uncut first accused Vodafone of avoiding a £6bn tax bill relating to the purchase of German engineering firm Mannesmann in October last year. At the time, the claim was dismissed by the company and HMRC as an 'urban myth'. In the last month, however, a parliamentary committee has 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