Press release: HSBC branches turned into ‘food banks’ in nationwide tax protests

Posted on Sat 20th Jul 2013, 12:32pm
ukuncut@gmail.com | 07415 063 231 | 07543 261 621 | @ukuncut

- Thirteen actions from Glasgow to Exeter in protest at unnecessary government cuts

- HSBC branch on London's Regent Street transformed into food bank as activists demand tax justice

- Protests follow Friday’s release of G20 action plan on corporate tax avoidance

PHOTOS AVAILABLE AT: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.538153569565909.1073741831.141516115896325&type=3&uploaded=1

HSBC branches in thirteen cities have been transformed into food banks as part of a national day of action called by UK Uncut, the anti-cuts direct action network. Activists argue that 500,000 people are now dependent on food banks as a direct result of the government’s austerity policies [1]. HSBC is being targeted for its use of tax havens and the action comes the day after the release of the G20 action plan for tackling corporate tax avoidance.

Actions are taking place in 13 towns and cities across the UK including in Grimsby, Shrewsbury, London, Glasgow, and Manchester. [2]

In Nottingham, activists have set up a food bank blocking the entrance to HSBC with supplies of cereals, tins of food, and toilet paper. In London's Regent Street, 100 activists brought bags of food to the store distributed the supplies, forcing the branch to close down. Meanwhile in Brixton a large crowd gathered and created a food bank inside the HSBC branch.

Campaigners cite research showing that nearly half of those relying on food banks did so because of cuts or delays in benefit payments, while one in five turned to food banks due to low pay. The number of people relying on food banks has risen by 170% in the last year alone. [3]

HSBC, the UK's largest bank, has been targeted for its use of tax havens and its role in facilitating tax avoidance. Research has shown HSBC uses tax havens more than any other UK bank, allowing it to shift its profits out of countries like the UK into jurisdictions with lower tax rates. [4] The bank has also been rocked by major tax avoidance scandals, with a Swiss subsidiary alleged to have helped UK tax payers evade £200 million as well as running thousands of offshore accounts in the tax haven of Jersey. [5]

On Friday the finance ministers of the G20 countries endorsed an action plan to tackle tax avoidance by multinational companies. The report highlighted key flaws in the current international tax system that governments should address in the coming years.

Amy Smith, a teacher from London, said: “Nobody should be forced to rely on food banks in Britain today. But government cuts are driving ever more people to use food banks or go hungry. The government should take meaningful action to stop tax avoidance by greedy banks like HSBC, rather than scapegoating the poorest and most vulnerable people in society”.

Robert McGarr, from Northampton, said: “While families go hungry, this government of millionaires lets its friends in the banks and big business avoid billions of pounds of tax. HSBC uses more tax havens than any other UK bank, but the government is only interested in punishing the poorest rather than going after the real cause of the problem.

"The government need to know that people want real change to stop tax dodging, not cosmetic tinkering, that's why we're taking action against the government's failure to stop HSBC's abuse of tax havens."

After UK Uncut's plans were announced the bank offered to meet to discuss activists' concerns. However the bank rejected repeated offers from UK Uncut to hold a public discussion on 20 July. [6]

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

PHOTOS AVAILABLE AT: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.538153569565909.1073741831.141516115896325&type=3&uploaded=1

1 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/30/food-banks-oxfam-parliamentary-inquiry

2 – Actions are planned to take place in Bristol, Brixton, Bromley, Exeter, Glasgow, Grimsby, Manchester, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield and Shrewsbury. For further details and locations see http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions?n=&m=1&d=20+Jul+2013

3 - http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats

4 - http://www.actionaid.org.uk/tax-justice-campaign/ftse-100-tax-haven-tracker-the-data

5 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/29/lord-green-hsbc-tax & http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2230349/HSBC-accused-setting-thousands-tax-evading-accounts-Jersey-including-drugs-arms-dealers.html

6 - https://twitter.com/UKuncut/status/358222833190588416/photo/1

Press release: HSBC branches face 'food bank' occupations over tax avoidance

Posted on Fri 19th Jul 2013, 10:45am
ukuncut@gmail.com | 07415 063 231 | 07543 261 621 | @ukuncut

- Nationwide actions planned in protest at government welfare cuts

- Protests follow today’s release of G20 action plan on corporate tax avoidance

Tomorrow, HSBC branches across the country will be transformed into food banks in protest at the impact of the government's welfare spending cuts on food poverty by UK Uncut, the anti-cuts direct action network. HSBC is being targeted for its use of tax havens and the action comes the day after the release of the G20 action plan for governments on tackling tax avoidance by multinational companies.

Actions are already planned for 13 towns and cities across the UK including London, Glasgow, Manchester, Oxford and Shrewsbury. [1] Activists have billed the day as a day of 'creative civil disobedience', occupying and shutting down bank branches and collecting food for distribution to local food banks.

Responding to today's G20 report, Kirsty Walker said “This report is a long list of tweaks to try and fix a broken system, and tweaks simply aren't enough. Government's still need to agree what is actually going to change and we don’t trust this government when its spent the last three years doing the opposite – making it easier for companies to dodge tax. The government need to know that people want real change, not cosmetic tinkering, that's why we're taking action against the government's failure to stop HSBC's abuse of tax havens.”

Campaigners have highlighted research which has shown that 500,000 people now rely on food banks on a regular basis. [2] The number of people relying on food banks has risen by 170% in the last year alone. Nearly half of those relying on food banks did so because of cuts or delays in benefit payments, while one in five turned to food banks due to low pay. [3]

HSBC, the UK's largest bank, has been targeted for its use of tax havens and its role in facilitating tax avoidance. Research has shown that HSBC uses tax havens more than any other UK bank, allowing it to shift its profits out of countries like the UK into jurisdictions with lower tax rates. [4] The bank has also been rocked by major tax avoidance scandals, with a Swiss subsidiary alleged to have helped UK tax payers evade £200 million as well as running thousands of offshore accounts in the tax haven of Jersey. [5]

After UK Uncut's plans were announced the bank offered to meet to discuss activists' concerns. [6] However despite repeated offers from UK Uncut the bank has so far rejected offers to hold a public discussion on 20 July.

Beth Thomas, a librarian from Northampton said “Half a million people now rely on food banks and the increase in their use is being driven by the government’s decision to slash benefits. To get a decent society where no one has to rely on food banks this government should stop attacking the most marginalised people and stand up to the greedy tax dodging banks.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

1 – Actions are planned to take place in Bristol, Brixton, Bromley, Exeter, Glasgow, Grimsby, Manchester, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield and Shrewsbury. For further details and locations see http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions?n=&m=1&d=20+Jul+2013

2- http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/30/food-banks-oxfam-parliamentary-inquiry

3 - http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats

4 - http://www.actionaid.org.uk/tax-justice-campaign/ftse-100-tax-haven-tracker-the-data

5 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/29/lord-green-hsbc-tax & http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2230349/HSBC-accused-setting-thousands-tax-evading-accounts-Jersey-including-drugs-arms-dealers.html

6 - https://twitter.com/HSBC_Press/status/354193653377413120

#StuffTheBanks

Posted on Thu 18th Jul 2013, 10:00pm

Good luck to everyone taking action on Saturday!

It is unforgivable that half a million people in this country are reliant on food banks due to government cuts while the super-rich continue to be allowed to dodge tax. HSBC have more subsidiaries in tax havens than any other bank. Nobody else is holding them to account. What you are doing tomorrow is really important.

Here are some things to remember for your action:

  • Print off some of these beautiful placards and flyers so people know why you’re there.
  • If you are collecting food at your action, you can find a local food bank to donate it to here. Most aren't open on Saturdays, so make contact and find out when you can deliver. If you're wondering what food to donate, check out this list.
  • Remember, the staff working in the branches aren't the enemy, a lot of them are in a union, are not on massive pay, and share a lot of your views - print off some of these flyers and talk to them.
  • There's usually no trouble at UK Uncut actions, but sometimes there's a small group of troublemakers who mess it up for the rest of us - the police. Make sure you know your rights and stay safe. The Activists’ Legal Project and the Green & Black Cross (GBC) offer legal briefings and resources.
  • Last but not least, it's going to be a scorcher so bring lots of water and stay hydrated!
Good luck, and remember to take photos and share them with the rest of the UK Uncut network on twitter - use #StuffTheBanks.

See you in HSBC!
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