Press release: UK Uncut respond to Hartnett's 'retirement'

Posted on Fri 9th Dec 2011, 4:00pm

For immediate release
Tel 07415063231

UK Uncut have today welcomed the announcement that Dave Hartnett is due to retire from his role as boss of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) [0].

Hartnett has repeatedly been brought in front of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to answer questions on tax deals with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs that cost the taxpayer up to £6bn and £10m respectively. The latest session ended with him being forced to deny he had plans to resign [1].

A survey last year found that he was Whitehall's most 'wined and dined' civil servant, treated by corporations 107 times in 3 years to top a survey of 172 senior civil servants [2]. MPs and commentators from across the political spectrum joined the call for Hartnett to resign [3] [4] [5].

Pressure in parliament and in the press has been a response to sustained action from protesters. Since October 2010 UK Uncut, the anti-cuts direct action group, have been using direct action and street protest to draw attention to the way in which deals are made for the super-rich, allowing them to avoid paying tax.

Recent UK Uncut actions calling for Hartnett’s resignation included protesters from UK Uncut and Occupy London blocking the entrance to the HMRC head office [6]. Another protest, on Wednesday November 9, saw UK Uncut and student activists disrupt Hartnett’s speech at The Tax Journal Conference. Dressed as executives from Vodafone and Goldman Sachs, activists presented Hartnett with flowers, wine and a card to thank him for preferential tax deals [7]. A video of the action has attracted over 11,000 hits on Youtube [8].

UK Uncut have vowed to keep the pressure on the government and corporate tax dodgers. On Saturday December 17, activists all over the country will shut down tax dodging stores on the busiest shopping day of the year. People are currently voting on an online poll to decide who should be the target of the actions- the most likely candidates are Vodafone and Philip Green’s Arcadia empire [9].

Alana Hay from UK Uncut responded to Hartnett’s announcement with the following statement: "Dave Hartnett has allowed big business and rich individuals to get away with daylight robbery. We hope that his departure brings a new way of working for HMRC, one which means that big business is not let off millions or even billions of pounds. The government must force HMRC to clamp down on tax avoidance by corporations and rich individuals and use the money to stop these unnecessary cuts to our welfare state and essential public services."


Notes to editor


UK Uncut's Christmas Special!

Posted on Mon 5th Dec 2011, 12:44am
‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the town,
Cash tills were ringing, snow falling down.
Big business is merry, and with good reason-
For it’s the busiest shopping day of the season.

But not every CEO should sleep snug in their bed,
As dreams of big profits dance through their head,
Because any tax dodgers with hope of good cheer:
UK Uncut know you’ve been naughty this year.

Whilst the undeserving rich will be patting themselves on the back and awarding themselves huge Christmas bonuses, there are many people who will be struggling this season. And they’re not asking for much. Some pensioners will be wishing their Winter Fuel Allowance hadn’t been cut so they didn’t have to go cold. Many parents will wish their local Sure Start centre was still open so they had someone to look after the kids. Many disabled people will be wishing their welfare payments hadn’t been decimated so they could still make ends meet.

These wishes and many more could easily be granted if the government abandoned its brutal cuts agenda and instead made rich tax dodgers and banks pay what they owe.

On December 17th, with only seven shopping days til Christmas, join UK Uncut’s shut-down santas and occupy elves as we hit the Christmas high streets and make sure that a company that has been naughty goes without this year.

Via the Facebook poll, we're going to decide together which high street target we should shut down. The company that wins the most votes online will be crowned UK Uncut’s Christmas Turkey and will be in for a roasting on December 17th.

Which tax-avoiding Scrooge or big-banking Grinch will you choose?

There’s a selection box of high street stores, hoping for huge sales this Christmas, who’ve been very bad. This year Vodafone paid a £6bn dividend to its shareholders, whilst still refusing to pay us the £6bn tax it owes us. Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfriges are all part of Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire Arcadia, but whilst they sell Christmas presents on our high streets, the profits go to Monaco. Boots dodged another year of tax by keeping their headquarters registered to a post box in Switzerland. And then there’s the big banks. Not only do banks like Barclays continue to receive huge taxpayer subsidies, but they also use tax havens to avoid paying their fair share back to society.

NEW: it's now a two-horse race between Vodafone and Philip Green's Arcadia group!

We won't know the winner until a couple of days before the 17th, but it's already time to think about how you're going to shut down your local branch.

NEW: And the 'winner' is... VODAFONE!

Wish your Sure Start centre hadn't closed? Grab the kids and turn the store into a Christmas creche. Wish your leisure centre was still open? Hold a festive aerobics class. If your only Christmas wish is to see your local Women’s Resource Centre reopened, then tell the Government by reinstating it again in the chosen tax dodger or bank just down the road.

To take part in the Christmas Special, check for an action near you on our Actions page. If there isn't one, we've got a step-by-step guide on how you can organise one yourself.

Ho ho ho! Don't forget to vote, and see you on the high streets!

A plea to Bruce Springsteen re: Vodafone sponsorship

Posted on Sun 4th Dec 2011, 2:04pm

Dear Bruce,

Your music is fantastic. Your massive show planned for 12 July 2012 in London's Hyde Park sure promises to be one hell of a day. However, we’re horrified to see that the communications and tax-dodging giant Vodafone is sponsoring the show. This short statement is a request for you to disassociate yourself from Vodafone or for you to at least make a public statement of solidarity on the day. Please let us explain.

The UK is currently facing £111bn worth of public sector cuts from a Conservative coalition government. These cuts make Margaret Thatcher look like a Liberal.

Over 700,000 public sector workers are facing the chop, our health system is being slowly privatised, people will lose their homes, and vital front line public services are being shut down. In addition, employment rights and the minimum wage are under threat as the government seeks to make people work for free in return for social security, creating an army of cheap labour.

These cuts are all taking place under the guise of broken Britain. “We have no money”, the government says. And yet some £25billion worth of UK tax is avoided every single year by the largest corporations and the richest people.

A popular civil society movement is growing in the UK with people from all walks of life calling for the government to stop the cuts and start reclaiming the money that is owed to us from the richest in our society.

Vodafone has avoided between £6bn and £8bn in tax over the past 10 years. This is an obscene amount of money. What’s more, last month it paid a record dividend of £6bn to its shareholders. That £6bn is our money. That £6bn needs to be invested into keeping our struggling public services running. That £6bn needs to be invested into our hospitals. That £6bn could be invested into public infrastructure to kick start our ailing economy.

For the past year UK citizens across the country have been shutting down Vodafone stores in disgust at this company’s attitude to our country. This is a British company that has thrived off our public services but is doing everything it can to contribute as little as possible in return.

You have a proud tradition of supporting just causes. You headlined the Amnesty Human Rights Tour, you’ve supported Vietnam War Veterans, Barack Obama, and have sung alongside Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. Your songs, ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’ and ‘Youngstown’ are powerful works about poverty and the power of multinational corporations.

In 1984 you turned down millions of dollars from the Chrysler Corporation to use your song ‘Born in the USA’ in an advert. Please now make a powerful stand for ordinary folk in the UK and reject Vodafone’s sponsorship cash, or at least stand with us at your live show and make a statement of solidarity.

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