Guest blog: Tax Dodging Tours

Posted on Thu 24th Jul 2014, 1:22pm
This is a guest blog from ActionAid

At ActionAid we've been campaigning for tax justice and exposing how big businesses dodge their taxes since 2008. We've come up with a fun new way to share what we've learnt: a tax justice walking tour around Mayfair.



Tax dodging by big business has become big news, but it's not just the UK that's losing out. Developing countries lose 3 times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year. There's over $20 trillion stashed in offshore tax havens. How does big business manage to avoid taxes and how do they get away with it? If you’re curious about the answers to these questions, this walking tour is for you.

In the last few years, tax justice campaigning by ActionAid and others has made good progress, but there is still a long way to go. The point of this tour is for people to understand what’s going on and to feel inspired that there is something everyone can do about tax dodging. Whether you are totally new to tax justice or already campaigning on this, the tour is a fun way to learn and get involved.

As recent research by Oxfam and the Equality trust shows, tax dodging is driving poverty and inequality all over the world, including here in the UK. We can't address the growing gap between rich and poor without redistributing wealth - tax is an important way of doing this. Our tour explores connections between tax dodging, inequality and poverty, at home and abroad, and gives an introduction to the exciting global and local movements for tax justice.

If you'd like to join us on a tour, we're running them monthly. The next on is on August 9th – find out more and book your place here.

Guest blog: Hands off our Public Services! Take Action Against TTIP, 12 July.

Posted on Tue 1st Jul 2014, 2:24pm
Guest blog from James Angel, #noTTIP campaigner.




The Coalition government have ramped up the privatisation of our public services, a process dating back to the Thatcher government of the 80s. As our schools and hospitals are sold off to profit-hungry business giants, the social fabric of our society is coming under attack.


But the Tories aren’t the only threat to our public services. Behind closed doors, the EU and US are planning the biggest corporate power grab in a decade. If agreed, the EU-US trade deal (TTIP) would grant corporations the power to sue governments for policies that could harm their profits. This threatens to lock-in the privatisation of our schools and hospitals. Labour might have pledged to repeal the Health & Social Care Act, which has opened up our NHS to profit-making companies. But if TTIP is agreed, bringing the NHS back under public control could become extremely difficult – any government attempting to do this would risk being sued by supremely powerful private investors.


Meanwhile, rules that protect workers, the environment, food safety, digital rights and privacy would be undermined by TTIP, with harmful industries like fracking and GM technologies encouraged. 


If agreed, TTIP would have devastating and irreversible impacts on our society. But we are being entirely shut out of the decision making process. Negotiations are shrouded in secrecy. There is no access to the draft text of the agreement – even for MPs. If ever there was an agreement that politicians and big business wanted to push through on the quiet, this is it. But we won’t let them. As politicians and lobbyists meet in secret, the international movement to stop TTIP is growing.


Bringing together farmers and trade unionists, environmentalists and privacy campaigners, new and diverse coalitions are emerging in opposition to TTIP. Protests are gathering pace across the EU and US, with a mass arrest of 250 protesters - including MEPs and political candidates - at the last round of negotiations in Brussels.


On Saturday 12 July, just two days before the next round of negotiations on TTIP, people around the UK are coming together to say: hands off! From Brighton to Bradford, Cardiff to Cambridge, Sheffield to Swindon, almost 20 actions are planned. Hundreds of people have pledged to take creative action ‘with a few surprises’ in central London, meeting outside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, 1 Victoria Street at 12pm. Find out about your nearest action at www.noTTIP.org.uk


TTIP negotiators are working against the clock. For the US this agreement must be concluded by early 2016 to avoid running up against the presidential election. We can prevent that happening. President Obama has already been refused special powers to negotiate the deal through congress. The European Commission has been forced to hold a public consultation. In the UK, MPs and MEPs who support TTIP are on the back foot and more and more people are becoming clued-up on the threat we face. We are winning the argument. Now, we must raise our voices together.


On 12 July, anti-cuts groups, NHS campaigners, anti-fracking groups, major trade unions, local food growers and many more (see the list of supporters below) will be taking to the streets together. This is the beginning of a broad and exciting new UK campaign, part of an international movement with the power to defeat this agreement and strengthen the position of the many against the few.


Join us!


www.noTTIP.org.uk #noTTIP


The #noTTIP day of action is supported by:

15MLondon, 350.org, Biofuelwatch, Campaign Against Climate Change, Community Food Growers Network, Corporate Watch, Disabled People Against Cuts, European Greens in London, Frack Free Sussex, Frack Off London, Friends of the Earth, Fuel Poverty Action, Globalise Resistance, GMB, Green Party London, Green Party of England and Wales, GreenNet, IOPS, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Keep Our NHS Public, Lewisham People Before Profit, London Federation of Green Parties, Occupy London, Open Rights Group, OurNHS, People & Planet, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Pirate Party UK, Platform, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Reclaim the Power, Red Pepper, Roj Women's Association, STOPAIDS, Student Stop Aids Campaign, SumOfUs, Tax-payers Against Poverty, UK Food Group, UK Uncut, Unison, University and College Union (UCU), War on Want, We Own It, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Development Movement, Young Greens.





Guest blog: why I support the occupation of Westminster Abbey

Posted on Sat 28th Jun 2014, 4:47pm
This is a guest blog from Lucy, an activist from the UK Uncut London group, about why she is taking action today.

In London protesters targetted a Boots store over their tax avoidance, before moving to join disabled activists in Parliament Square



Today people from UK Uncut are supporting DPAC and Occupy as they occupy the grounds of Westminster Abbey. In this action we are opposing the government’s planned end to the Independent Living Fund. The cuts to this fund will mean that those disabled people with the highest support needs will become prisoners in their own homes or forced into institutions.

The action undertaken today may seem slightly different to the usual UK Uncut action. However, for me this is about working together to demand rights for all – not just the wealthiest or most powerful in society. This is a moment of participatory democracy in which people come together to demand rights.

For me this is personal. I grew up with narratives handed down to me by my family of visceral poverty. My granddad, one of 12, described siblings dying from treatable illnesses; of the ever-present shame and fear of the workhouse; of fear of not having enough to eat, or of being warm enough or of knowing where they would sleep. When he died in 2009 he had paid for his own funeral, the avoidance of what was for him a final shame – the paupers grave.

In his lifetime those fears were replaced with rights – the right to housing, the right to support in old age, the right to support for those who were unwell, the right to support if there was no work, rights to equal access. However imperfect these were rights nonetheless.

Today I take action because I believe that those rights have been eroded and because I do not accept the government’s claim that there is no money to fund vital public services.

I act because I am angry that corporations like Boots are enabled by our government to avoid paying taxes, while disabled people are told that they do not have the right to make decisions about their own care.

I act because I am furious that citizenship has become tied to wealth and not to fundamental rights. I am angry that we are told that the cuts are about creating choice in a market: because what kind of choice is being a prisoner at home or in residential care.

As a UK Uncut protestor I take action to seek tax justice and to ask for alternatives to the cuts. But for me this is not just a movement that seeks tax justice, it’s a movement that demands rights and equality: equality of access to education; to housing; to warmth; to physical safety and to equality before the law.

Last week I spoke to one of the DPAC protestors who will be occupying the Abbey grounds. He told me that it is getting to the stage where all rights have been removed from those with support needs, where people are committing suicide, where people feel hopeless, lost and afraid.

So I take action today in solidarity with all those that seek to put human rights and equality above profits. I take action to demand an end to the degrading, cruel and brutal austerity agenda. Please lend your support to this action and those taking part – because we all deserve those rights for which they fight.
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