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).

Guest blog from Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

Posted on Fri 6th Jun 2014, 6:30pm
This is a guest blog from France O'Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Join the #VodaHome day of action on June 14th.

Access to decent housing at an affordable price should be a basic right. Like food and drink, shelter is a necessity, yet for many of us this need is only partly met.

Far too many live in overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation.
The waiting list for social housing is so long that it never seems to move. House prices have risen 8 per cent in the past year alone, which is great for sellers and construction companies, but leaves buyers scrambling to try and get on the property ladder . And despite talk of housing bubbles, the number of home owners has fallen by 400,000 from its pre-recession peak.

Lack of sufficient good quality housing at a price that can be afforded hits people's life chances at every stage. Damp housing can put your health at risk and an overcrowded home is very likely to undermine your education. Lack of affordable alternatives also leaves people locked into areas where there are few job opportunities, entrenching low wages and unemployment.

Good housing is not just about roofs over heads, it underpins sustainable economic growth.

Once political parties competed on who could build the most homes, but in recent decades construction dropped off the political agenda. House price inflation may be bad for the economy, but makes owners feel better off. Meanwhile everyone else suffered rapidly rising rents and unaffordable house prices, overcrowding and even homelessness.

Private landlords have rushed to fill the gap, making buy-to-let a big business, but rents are at a record high and tenancy agreements offer little security. Landlords need to be better regulated.

The waiting list for social housing stands at 1.6 million, yet only 23,000 social homes were built last year.

The Coalition is entirely focused on reviving the property market. Help to Buy is better called Help to Sell. It has ignored the need for social housing.

This is why the TUC wants to see a crash programme to build one million affordable and council houses. That is why we need to end tax dodging by the super-rich and big business - not just to fund proper services and decent welfare but to build the homes that Britain needs.

Thanks Francis! Let's take action to stop the tax dodging - starting with Vodafone. Join your nearest #VodaHome action on June 14th, or organise your own with this step-by-step guide.

See you on the streets!

Guest blog from GMB, trade union

Posted on Fri 6th Jun 2014, 8:30am
This is a guest blog from Martin Smith, National Organiser, and Eamon O'Hearn Large, National Officer, from the trade union GMB encouraging people to get along to the Vodafone demo near them on the 14th.

GMB is focussed on making work pay, including paying the rent.

Photo credit: Hugo Michiels, Demotix

93% of new Housing Benefit claimants are from people in work as rents soar by 18% a year. Work simply does not pay the rent. Those with mortgages taken out during the height of the bubble live in fear of interest rate rises. Thousands live in fear of eviction through the bedroom tax.

Grasping landlords have exploited rising house prices and put rents up year on year knowing the Housing Benefit fund will pay. The Right to Buy scheme of the 1980s that provided for the cheap sell-off of council houses, the collapse in house building over the last 30 years, the promotion of the buy to let industry and the ending of any controls on rents, have all set the scene for this great rent robbery by landlords. Only landlords can cut rents and only rent controls will make them.

But welfare dependency is not limited to greedy landlords. GMB research confirms the Jospeh Rowntree Foundations calculation that most employers paying less than £10 per hour for a 40 hour week rely on the fact their workers will claim in work benefits to keep body and soul together. A huge subsidy from taxpayers to the profits of poverty wage employers and further proof that £7.65 an hour is a state subsidised wage not a “living wage”.

To add insult to injury many corporations addicted to taxpayer subsidies of their low pay are also those that engage the most in complex tax avoidance schemes. A new business model is emerging - combining tax dodging and wage dodging while holding taxpayers to ransom with threats to cut jobs and relocate abroad. Picking our pockets at work and at home.

Starbucks, Next, Amazon, Vodafone – the list is almost endless and part of building unions in these businesses is exposing their tax affairs to demand they give a greater share of their hidden off-shore profits to their workforce – and back to taxpayers to fund house building and public services.

The reality for many workers In the UK right now is that unemployment is being replaced by state-supported under-employment at a faster rate than ever, trapping millions in a revolving door between unemployment benefits and in work benefits. Jobs that were 40 hours a week and permanent are being split into zero hours or 4 hours a week casual contracts and workers sent to the dole office to claim in work benefits. For the 2.6 million workers who earn less than £6.80 an hour, the minimum wage has become a maximum wage – a ceiling on their aspirations rather than a floor on their wages. For the first time ever, most people classed as living in poverty come from working families.

Food banks and in-work benefits can keep body and soul together when pay packets aren’t enough to make ends meet. But only employers can make work pay and only trade unions can ensure they do.

GMB encourages all members to get active and join their local Vodafone actions on the 14th.

Join the national day of action against Vodafone on June 14th. Find your nearest action here, or organise your own.

See you on the streets.

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