Archive for the ‘UK Uncut’ Category

Energy companies eurobond tax-dodge scam

October 27, 2013
energy companies price hikes

energy companies price hikes

Over the last couple of weeks, we have had the Big 6 energy companies raise their prices by and in some cases more than 10%, just in time for winter.

So much for the advice from David Cameron, given when SSE was the first to up their prices, to switch suppliers. Had they done so, they would have found themselves out of the frying pan and into the fire as when British Gas increased prices a few days later, by a bigger hike.

The advice worth following, was that given by Paul Lewis on Money Saver, to switch to fixed price for the next few years, but those deals have probably already gone.

The regulator is at fault. We should have a single fixed tariff of x per kW-hour, no standing charges, anyone can then easily make a comparison, as they do buying petrol or diesel at the pump. The energy companies can bleat all they like at the need to pay for infrastructure. You do not pay an additional infrastructure charge when buying groceries at the supermarket, nor when buying petrol or diesel, therefore no reason at all to pay a standing charge for gas or electricity.

There are two ways to pay less, find a cheaper tariff, use less.

For many, the choice is between eating and heating.

To justify their latest hike, they always have an excuses other than greed and fat cat bonuses. In the past it has been wholesale prices, now it is green taxes and social taxes, often lumped together.

David Cameron, in a knee-jerk reaction, has offered to do away with green taxes.

We must not do away with green taxes. Green taxes are to pay for the future, for renewables, for insulation.

Social taxes provide a payment to those struggling to pay their fuel bills.

Former Prime Minister John Major has suggested a windfall tax.

Ed Miliband has suggested a price freeze.

When the energy companies bleat about green taxes, they do not mention their eurobond tax-dodging scam.

The eurobond scam, is exactly the same tax dodge being used by High Street retailers and big food companies.

The energy companies are foreign owned. They are lent money at very high interest through the Channel Islands. Paying the interest reduces profits in the UK, relocates those profits offshore, where no tax is paid.

Maybe we should be plugging the eurobond tax scam.

And while we are at it, let’s re-nationalise the energy industry.

We are likely to see rolling black outs over the next few winters. Why? Because of the failure of the industry to invest. We need plant on standby, redundancy but that costs money.

Please sign the petition to re-nationalise gas and electricity.

High Street tax-dodgers

October 25, 2013
High Street tax-dodgers

High Street tax-dodgers

Of course Jersey has the right to say it isn’t a tax haven. Just as we’ve got the right to laugh at them when they do so. — Richard Murphy ‏

A joint investigation by Corporate Watch and The Independent has identified a number of High Street retailers who are exploiting a eurobond scam to avoid paying tax, which is costing the public purse at least £500 million per year.

High Street retailers identified, include Nando’s, Pizza Express, Café Rouge, BHS, Maplin, Office and Pets at Home. The companies all cut their taxable profits by borrowing at high interest from their owners through the Channel Islands Stock Exchange.

This has been raised in the House of Commons with David Cameron, he has refused to close the tax loophole.

David Cameron would rather wage class war on the poor and disabled with Bedroom Tax, cuts in welfare payments, cuts in disability payments, savage cuts to public libraries.

Once again, we see what David Cameron means when he says we are all in it together. It is just that some are more in it than others.

It is not only High Street retailer who are making use of this eurobond scam to avid tax. Corporate Watch and The Independent have also identified food companies making use of the same tax loophole: United Biscuits, which is behind major brands including McVitie’s, Penguin, Jaffa Cakes and Twiglets; Molson Coors, whose beers include Carling, Coors, Cobra and Miller; and Iglo Foods, which owns Birds Eye.

Istanbul park protests sow the seeds of a Turkish spring

June 1, 2013

A protest in a small Istanbul park has become a lightning rod for grievances against the government, and it could be explosive.

Taksim Gezi Park protest in Istanbul

Taksim Gezi Park protest in Istanbul

This morning, Turkish police surrounded protesters in Taksim Gezi park, the central square in Istanbul, blocked all exits and attacked them with chemical sprays and teargas.

An Occupy-style movement has taken off in Istanbul. The ostensible issue of conflict is modest. Protesters started gathering in the park on 27 May, to oppose its demolition as part of a redevelopment plan. But this is more than an environmental protest. It has become a lightning conductor for all the grievances accumulated against the government.

Police have waited until the early hours of each morning to attack, just as police in the US did when dealing with Occupy protesters. They set fire to the tents in which protesters were sleeping and showered them with pepper spray and teargas. A student had to undergo surgery after injuries to his genitals.

The occupiers adapted and started to wear homemade gas masks. More importantly, they called for solidarity. In response to yesterday’s assault, thousands of protesters turned up, including opposition politicians. But this morning’s attack allowed no defence or escape. The park, and the area around it, is still closed, and still under clouds of gas.

In April, a Justice and Development party (AKP) leader warned that the liberals who had supported them in the last decade would no longer do so. This was as good a sign as any that the repression would increase, as the neoliberal Islamist party forced through its modernisation agenda.

The AKP represents a peculiar type of conservative populism. Its bedrock, enriched immensely in the last decade, is the conservative Muslim bourgeoisie that first emerged as a result of Turgut Özal’s economic policies in the 1980s. But, while denying it is a religious party, it has used the politics of piety to gain a popular base and to strengthen the urban rightwing.

It has spent more than a decade in government building up its authority. The privatisation process has led to accelerated inequality, accompanied by repression. But it has also attracted floods of international investment, leading to growth rates of close to 5% a year. This has enabled the regime to pay off the last of its IMF loans, so that it was even in a position to offer the IMF $5bn to help with the Eurozone crisis in 2012.

In the meantime, the AKP has gradually consolidated its support within the state apparatus and media, and no longer needs its liberal backers. The Turkish military leadership has been compelled to accept the Islamists, having suffered a significant loss of power relative to other branches of the state such as the police and judiciary. While the erosion of the military’s power should be a gain for democracy, journalists have also ended up in jail on charges of plotting coup d’etats.

Of course, there is a history of coup plotting. And the government charged 86 people with plotting to bring down the government in 2008, as part of its investigation into the Turkish “deep state”. But it has been able to use this fear to conflate all opposition with anti-democratic instigation, and crush it ruthlessly. During this time, its vote has risen from 34.28% to 49.90%.

It has also demonstrated confidence in the way it has attempted to deal with the Kurdish question, and in its regional strategy. The government embarked on significant new negotiations with the Kurdish Workers party (PKK) in 2009, partly because it wants to forge a lucrative relationship with the Kurdish regional government in Iraq.

Under the AKP, Turkey has been increasing its relative autonomy from traditional supporters in the White House and Tel Aviv, forging close relations with Iran, Hezbollah and even – until recently – President Assad of Syria. This has been interpreted, hysterically, as “neo-Ottomanism”. It is simply an assertion of Turkey’s new power.

Thus strengthened, the government is on the offensive. It has never needed the left or the labour movement, which it has repressed. It no longer needs the liberals, as its attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and its imposition of alcohol-free zones, show.

This is the context in which a struggle over a small park in a congested city centre has become an emergency for the regime, and the basis for a potential Turkish spring.

– Richard Seymour

Published in The Guardian.

The attraction of Istanbul is the narrow streets, the independent shops, the bazaars and markets. The last thing Istanbul needs is a shopping mall. The last thing Istanbul needs is a park destroyed for a shopping mall.

Fairness: Equal pay for monkeys

May 5, 2013

Even monkeys know what is fair and equitable, which is more than can be said for the vile ConDem government.

Greene King tax dodgers

May 3, 2013
Rooney Anand Greene King dodging tax and screwing pub landlords

Rooney Anand Greene King dodging tax and screwing pub landlords

Greene King are a pubco, ie a large pub owning company that screws pub landlords by charging extortionate rents, and by overcharging for the beer they are forced to buy. The net result is the pubs go bust, and are then sold off for redevelopment.

We are losing 18 pubs a week thanks to greedy pubcos like Greene King.

One such pub Greene King has screwed into the ground is Farmer’s Boy, a 17th-century Grade II listed building in the village of Langley, Hertfordshire. Fred Robinson ran the pub for nearly five years but during that time it was never refurbished. The pub is now closed, earmarked for redevelopment as housing, Fred Robinson unemployed and the prospect of being rendered homeless.

Greene King are not content to screw their pub landlords, they are also screwing the rest of society by joining the likes of Starbucks and dodging tax.

Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee have cited the pub group’s scheme as one example of “an illegitimate game to outwit the taxpayer”. Conservative committee member Richard Bacon suggested it was “purely artificial”.

Lawyers for HMRC claim that Greene King, which owns 2,300 pubs, including the Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne restaurant chains, received tailored tax advice from Ernst & Young suggesting it could build a series of transactions between companies within the same group that would leave it with a tax advantage.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand had the gall to take umbrage when The Grauniad had the audacity to question him about his tax-dodging activity.

Tax-dodging Greene King now face the prospect of a boycott or occupation.

Lord Freud on bedroom tax

April 7, 2013
David Cameron: increase the gap between rich and poor

David Cameron: increase the gap between rich and poor

David Cameron: take away their disability benefits

David Cameron: take away their disability benefits

Lord Freud is happy to bring in the Bedroom Tax and make the poor homeless, finally has a word with Channel 4 News on the subject of Bedroom Tax.

Disabled children are just one group who will be heavily impacted by the obscene Bedroom Tax.

Consultants write reports, a lot of time, money and effort is expended to get specially adapted bedroom for children with disabilities. All for nought when the vile ConDem government tells them to downsize to a smaller house, because they call it as a spare bedroom, subject to a Bedroom Tax.

Adults with disabilities, have sufficient stress in their lives, without the additional stress of having their disability benefits taken away.

Its says it all when David Cameron chooses The Sun to write in to say the cuts are fair.

The top rate of tax, paid by the 1% highest earners who earn over £150,000/year, will fall from 50% to 45%.

Meanwhile at the other end of the scale, the people with the lowest income – those on unemployment and disability benefits in Birmingham – face paying 20% of their council tax bill.

Iain Duncan Smith: 400,000 sign petition in less than 4 days

April 4, 2013
Tell Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week and not sponge off his wealthy wife

Tell Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week and not sponge off his wealthy wife

400,000 in less than 4 days — incredible!

First of all I want to say thank you. When I started the petition calling on Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week I hoped it would have some impact, but I never imagined it would set off such a huge chain reaction. As I write the signature count is 408,593. It is overwhelming and inspiring.

This week the Government wanted to control the debate and dictate the tone — you have taken that from them and given it back to the people!

The petition has been talked about on Facebook and Twitter, and covered hundreds of times in the media. It was on the front page of The Independent, BBC, Sky News, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and many more.

Iain Duncan Smith has not yet replied directly to me, but told his local newspaper that he thinks the petition is “a complete stunt which distracts attention from the welfare reforms”. In fact it is the total opposite.

This petition represents over 400,000 people concerned by the welfare cuts.

Iain Duncan Smith is clearly rattled and wants this to blow over. Let’s not give him that privilege.

In the coming days I will deliver the petition in person but let’s have a final effort to remind him once again what this is all about — men who live comfortable lives in country mansions have no right to tell people what poverty feels like.

Post a Facebook message or send a tweet today. Some ideas below…

Please keep supporting the petition — we have started this conversation, let’s keep it going.

Thank you,
Dominic Aversano

Help reach 500,000 signers…

The vile CondDem government are clearly rattled, we have had George Osborne say the critics are talking ill-informed nonsense, we have have had Eric Pickles say people on welfare should go and live in France, we have had the gutter press try and smear all benefit claimants as mass murderers and child killers, a theme George Osborne has picked up today.

Please sign the petition calling on Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week and not sponge of his millionaire wife.

Please join the Who Wants to Evict a Millionaire action called for 13 April 2016.

Please spread the word. Let us reach half a million signatures.

The bedroom tax’s authors were either careless or cruel – it must be fought

April 1, 2013

This intolerable policy is unworkable, unfair and unreasonable. It will be challenged with direct action.

Axe the Bedroom Tax

Axe the Bedroom Tax

For some time now, I’ve been trying to understand the government’s thought process as it devised the bedroom tax. I can imagine Lord Freud, its inventor, might not know enough about the social housing stock to realise it is an impractical policy (though if he doesn’t even know the basics of social housing, I’m not sure why the government is letting him tinker with it); I can understand the mean-spirited attitude that resents giving poor people anything other than as little as possible (though I don’t share it); I can even accept that – as bizarre as it sounds to me – the government might sincerely see the bedroom tax as a practical solution to the social housing shortage.

But what I don’t understand is the rationale of a group of individuals who decide to tax people for their spare rooms, and actively include foster parents in that – or people with disabilities, or people whose children are serving overseas. I mean, there must have been a conversation at some point where one policymaker asked “what about people who need a spare room to store medical equipment to keep them alive? Are they going to be exempted?” and another replied “no, let’s take money from them as well”. And if that conversation didn’t happen, what does that say about the level of scrutiny that goes into making government policy?

I ponder this because to me it is evidence that this government is either careless or actively cruel. There are simply no other explanations. The bedroom tax has certainly not come from a place of reason. If it had, the government wouldn’t have partially U-turned by exempting foster families as it has now done, or it would have listened to all the local authorities saying they don’t have the right housing stock, or it would have been deterred by warnings that the policy will lead to evictions and homelessness. That’s how a reasonable government would behave, and this government is not reasonable.

We’ve been here before, where the government attempts to introduce a tax that is unworkable, unfair and unreasonable. The fledgling campaigns against the bedroom tax have already begun to make comparisons with the poll tax, suggesting that campaigners are aware that direct action is the only conceivable response. The poll tax was defeated with mass non-payment and protest on the streets, not with rational arguments or pleas for compassion. I get the impression that campaigners against the bedroom tax will be responding with similar inflexibility to the government. Inflexibility is something this government seems to understand.

UK Uncut’s forthcoming day of action on 13 April is the obvious starting point for a sustained campaign of direct action against the bedroom tax. And what the government needs to grasp pretty quickly is that opposition to the bedroom tax will not come from hubristic activists, but from people who feel they have no choice but to fight because they are already being dragged down by a whole other set of austerity measures. For a lot of people in this country, a campaign against the bedroom tax will not be an opportunity to score political points; it will be the raft that stops them from drowning.

Over the coming weeks and months, a cocktail of local authority cuts, benefit caps, and the bedroom tax will push people into fighting back. The media and political class may condemn their actions, even if they are non-violent. There won’t be any headlines depicting these protests as what they simply are: a justifiable reaction to an intolerable policy. But when the government pushes people to their absolute limit, something has to give. This year, that will happen. And if you want to know who to blame, look to Westminster.

– Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Originally published in the Grauniad.

Note: A petition has been launched calling for Iain Duncan Smith to survive on £53 a week. Please sign and pass to others.

Caroline Lucas: Launch of the People’s Assembly

March 27, 2013

Caroline Lucas MP speaking at the launch of the People’s Assembly.

The People’s Assembly is a broad coalition formed to oppose the hated ConDem Government.

It is a real coalition, not a coalition of convenience where the despised LibDems will do anything to remain in power.

The ConDem Government delight in the deficit as it gives them the excuse for slash and burn of the public sector.

We live in a world where the rich have their taxes cut because they work harder, the poor have their benefits cut because it makes them work harder.

It was not the poor who caused the economic crisis it was the greedy bankers, compounded by the idiot we have as Chancellor.

If you are rich you will get State handouts to pay for the nanny for your spoilt brats. If you are a single mother on benefits trying the best you can to bring up your kids, the government will force you off benefits.

If you are sick, if you are at death’s door, the government will find you fit for work and cut your disability benefits.

Come April, the poor will see their benefits cut, they will be hit with a bedroom tax, they will be forced to pay Council tax.

Meanwhile the greedy bankers who caused the economic crisis award themselves multimillion pound bonuses.

RBS: Stop defrauding us, manipulating us, lying to us and trashing our climate

February 28, 2013
Oily bankers RBS AGM 2011

Oily bankers RBS AGM 2011

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) reported a £5.2 billion loss as it announced its annual results today The bank’s boss Stephen Hester is four years into his original five-year plan to bring RBS back on track – yet things don’t seem to be getting much better for the publicly owned bank. RBS blames a year of heavy fines. But let’s just remind ourselves of what these fines were:

  • PPI: The bank knowingly mis-sold its customers insurance which they neither needed nor could use, over a period of years. Fine: £2.2 billion
  • Libor: The bank illegally manipulated a crucial interest rate to benefit itself whilst negatively affecting mortgage payers in the UK (and elsewhere). Fine: £391 million

Bankers this year have been rewarded for doing a ‘good job’. Bonus pot: £600,000 million.

Some pretty significant figures that the bank should never have been in a position to pay.

If the RBS was really making headway to being sustainable and acting in the interest of us and its shareholders, we would surely expect a much stronger annual report, and a move towards investments only in sustainable projects.

Hester is quoted on the BBC website this morning as saying “…my job is [to] deliver an RBS that other investors want to own shares in…” This is true, but he must also remember that RBS is still owned by UK taxpayers and it is also his job to ensure that the bank is cleaned up and takes good care of our investment. Stopping defrauding us, manipulating us, lying to us and trashing our climate and environment would certainly be a good place to start. Hester has a lot of ground to cover in the final year of his plan.

– Paul Daly

Originally published by WDM.


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