Guest blog: Fighting the cuts & corporate power

Posted on Tue 10th Jun 2014, 8:30am
This is a guest blog post by Danny Chivers, who is part of both the Reclaim Shakespeare Company and UK Uncut

Fighting the cuts and corporate power: a double-whammy weekend of action coming up!

There are two exciting direct action callouts for the weekend of June 14th/15th: a day of UK Uncut actions targeting Vodafone’s tax-dodging on Saturday 14th, and a “Viking flash-horde” at the British Museum in protest at BP sponsorship on Sunday 15th, organised by theatrical activists the Reclaim Shakespeare Company.

These may seem like quite separate issues, but in fact they are deeply interlinked, and I’d recommend that anyone thinking of attending one should include the other as well and make a proper action-packed weekend of it.

Why? Well, beyond the initial fact that both offer the chance to do something inspiring and effective to shake off the post-EU-election blues, these two actions are tackling different parts of the same problem. They are linked by the Government’s brutal cuts agenda, and also by the growing problem of unaccountable corporations.

The #VodaHome action will highlight the cuts to social housing that are forcing more people into poverty, temporary accommodation and homelessness, and link this to the billions of pounds that the Government allows the likes of Vodafone to avoid in tax. The British Museum action, meanwhile, is part of a wider movement against fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts. Funding arts and culture gives the likes of BP and Shell a cheap veneer of responsibility that helps to distract from their real, destructive activities; not just their drilling and spilling, but their ferocious lobbying to block clean energy projects all over the world, keeping us trapped on a fossil-fuelled path to climate meltdown.

While fossil fuel companies have been giving money to some of our cultural institutions for many years, until now their contribution has been relatively small. For example, BP provides less than 1% of the annual income of the Tate, the Royal Opera House and the British Museum (although you wouldn’t know it from the huge amount of branding the company gets in return). Government cuts to public funding of galleries, theatres and museums mean that there is now a major risk that these institutions could drastically increase their reliance on corporate funding, locking them in as PR partners to dirty industries. Increases in fossil fuel sponsorship would also make it much harder to produce art that exposes these companies’ true nature; many artists are already afraid to speak out against their sponsors for fear of losing their livelihoods.



It doesn’t have to be like this. The weekend of June 14th and 15th gives us all a brilliant opportunity to challenge two different corporations who are benefiting from (and behind the scenes no doubt cheering on) the Government’s strategy of letting the rich off their taxes while hammering everyone else. These two days of action will highlight some of the terrible consequences of the cuts (a lack of affordable housing with all the misery and tragedy that entails, cheap unearned PR for climate-trashing industries and the corporate capture of the arts) while also putting forward the solutions (tax justice leading to decent public funding for social housing, the arts and everything else we’d expect in a decent society). Plus we’ll get to turn Vodafone stores into temporary housing and give BP a flashmob Viking funeral. How perfect a weekend is that?

To join the #Vodahome action, check UK Uncut’s actions page to find an action near you, or see the step-by-step guide on how you can organise one yourself. To join the BP Vikings flash-horde, sign up to the Facebook event or send an email to info@bp-or-not-bp.org and you’ll receive instructions!

Guest blog from Paula, disability rights campaigner

Posted on Sat 7th Jun 2014, 6:00pm
This is a guest blog from Paula, a disability rights campaigner and DPAC activist. Join Paula on June 14th to resist the Bedroom Tax and other government attacks on the right to a home.

On 1st April 2013, 670,000 people in the UK were informed that their housing benefit was going to be cut by £14 a week if you had a spare bedroom in your property or by £22 a week if you had more than one spare bedroom. The Government call this policy the “Spare room subsidy”, we as campaigners call it the Bedroom Tax.



450,000 people affected by the Bedroom Tax are disabled people, 60-70 per cent of households in the UK have a disabled person living in it. A year on from the introduction from the bedroom tax, and we are seeing that 9 out of 10 disabled people have cut back on eating to pay the bedroom tax, 4 out of 10 disabled people have cut back on mobility care support, and 37 per cent of people have had to cut back on medicines needed to treat their various illnesses and impairments to pay the bedroom tax to keep a roof over their head.

We are seeing councils up and down the country take into account a disabled person’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) when a claim for discretionary housing payment is applied (DHP) despite this benefit not being means tested. This benefit is to meet a disabled person’s care and mobility needs. 3 out of 10 disabled people living in housing adapted to meet their needs have been denied DHPS’ compared to non disabled people, a blatant case of discrimination by the councils themselves.

Disabled people need a spare room because of the equipment they may have to store for their condition, i.e., a wheelchair, or specialist machinery like dialysis equipment for example, or if a partner, may need a spare bedroom because the person with an impairment is sleeping in a hospital bed, unable to sleep with their partner, and their partner needing that spare bed in order for them to sleep so they can continue to care for their loved one at home.

This policy is causing great harm to many, we have seen people like Stephanie Botteril take her own life as she worried how to pay the £20 a week to keep her home, money she simply did not have, people with mental health impairments sectioned when the bailiffs have made an attempt to enter their property as the claimant has been served with an eviction notice, and it is important to stress, that in the last 12 months over 15 per cent of claimants affected by the bedroom tax are facing eviction causing a great deal of distress and uncertainty for many.

It’s important that we support the campaign to get the bedroom tax abolished, cap rents and build more social housing, housing is a human right, and should be available to all. Help us campaign against this draconian unjust policy, help stop the bedroom tax!


Join the #VodaHome actions on June 14th - tell Vodafone to pay their tax and the government to stop their cuts to housing. Find your local action here, or organise your own.

Guest blog from Val from Grimsby UK Uncut

Posted on Sat 7th Jun 2014, 4:00pm
This is a guest blog from Val from Grimsby UK Uncut, telling us why she's taking action on June 14th, and why you should to.



I am angry that while all the political parties are trying to convince us that austerity measures are necessary; that cuts to our public services and our benefits system have to be made, that we have to tax the bedrooms of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable, the government is giving away billions to rich companies and their shareholders by agreeing that they don’t have to pay their taxes. That’s our money.

This means real people are plunged into poverty. Any one of us can lose our jobs and be at the mercy of the benefits system. It’s outrageous that people in the sixth or seventh richest economy in the world are homeless, starving and lives are being put at risk and all to funnel more money into the bulging pockets of the world’s richest.

Estimates are that the avoided, evaded and uncollected taxes amount to enough to wipe out the deficit. No cuts necessary.

This is not just about telling Vodafone and those other companies that are leeching this country’s wealth; it’s also about telling the government that they’ve got their priorities wrong.

Taking direct action is the only way to get attention and get our voices heard. But just because something is serious that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Roy is being a bit mysterious about what he’s planning but from the hints he’s dropped I’m sure we’ll be making our point with humour. We’re meeting at 3pm at Freshney Place in Grimsby town centre. Find Grimsby UK Uncut on Facebook or the website for updates.

Join the #VodaHome action on June 14th - tell Vodafone to pay their tax and tell the government to use that money to stop cuts to housing. Find your local action here, or organise one yourself (here's a step-by-step guide).
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