Posts Tagged ‘Arcadia Group’

Tax dodger Boots turned into a field hospital

January 30, 2011
Boots field hospital

Boots field hospital

Boots: We won't buy your cuts

Boots: We won't buy your cuts

Ambulance for protesters attacked by police

Ambulance for protesters attacked by police

A man washes his eyes after police used CS gas on tax protesters

A man washes his eyes after police used CS gas on tax protesters

Tesco on Oxford Street

Tesco Every Fiddle Helps - tax dodging brands taken off the shelves

We don’t want a meal deal, we just want a fair deal! — Boots chant

The staff at Boots were fantastic and took us inside and gave us free treatment. My eyes were really streaming and my face hurt but I was most struck by the violence used by the police. I have been on a lot of demonstrations and have not seen anything like this before. — Gordon Maloney, UK Uncut protester attacked by police

In the last weekend of January we saw the first big weekend of action of the New Year against tax dodgers. Sunday dawned with The BSRC knocking on the doors of Tesco, Boots, Vodafone and the Arcadia Empire of Sir Philip Green. The last big protest was last year on the busiest shopping weekend in the run up to Christmas.

Boots was turned into a field hospital.

Why Boots? Boots is a tax dodger. Boots is owned by a hedge fund. The head office for Boots is in Switzerland. On further investigation the head office is a letter box, but that is sufficient for Boots to dodge UK tax. False Economy estimates that the tax they pay on their profits has fallen from around 33% to 3%.

Why a field hospital? The ConDem Government are planning massive changes to the NHS (National Health Service), changes the public has made clear they do not want. But the ConDems seem as deaf to the wishes of the public as the repressive regime in Egypt.

The field hospital came into its own when police officers decided to pepper spray protesters. The Met must learn tactical policing from the Security Police in Egypt. What did they do, watch the coverage from Egypt then decide they too wanted a bit of the action? An ambulance had to be called to give medical aid to those assaulted and injured by the police.

Well done PC CW 2440 who thought it a clever idea to spray peaceful protesters with pepper spray, but such an idiot was he that he pepper sprayed himself in the face!

But thanks to the Boots staff who were so appalled by the police tactics that they went to the aid of the injured protesters. Thanks also to Ben’s Cookies next door who gave milk to wash eyes and help neutralise the burning.

Tweeted by @BootsMealDeal:

We at Boots are disgusted by police behaviour today.

Why did Boots then remove all their tweets from twitter?

If nothing else the police thugs who used pepper spray on peaceful protesters should be charged with assault. Since when has posting leaflets through a door been criminal damage?

If you were a witness to the pepper spray incident, then please write down what you saw as a witness statement and send a copy to UK Uncut and

Anna Williams who saw the incident said:

I condemn the violent behaviour of the police who have attacked a peaceful protest against tax avoidance, with three people being taken away in an ambulance.

This is yet another example of political policing that is about protecting corporate interests and not those of ordinary people. We will not however be intimidated off the streets! We have a right to protest when the government are making unnecessary cuts that will hit the poorest in our society the hardest.

What is wrong with the Met? If there ever was a need for an inquiry into a police force, then it is the Met.

– unlawful killing of an innocent bystander at G20 protests
– cover up of the G20 killing
police brutality at student protests
police infiltration of activist groups
sexual violation of activists by undercover cops

Before today’s protest, Sir Hugh Orde, president of Acpo, had warned that police could adopt more extreme tactics to counter the growing wave of protests. It would appear he was true to his word!

Orde has criticised the lack of willingness of new protest groups that have sprung up around the internet, such as UK Uncut, to engage with police before protests. He said if they continued to refuse to co-operate, then police tactics would have to become more extreme. He seems to fail to understand that in this country we have policing by consent. Or does he think he is in Northern Ireland? The role of the police in a democracy is to safeguard the right to protest. The only violence on the day was when one of his thug officers decided to assault peaceful protesters who posed no threat to his officers.

It is not good enough to throw our hands up in the air and say ‘Oh, we can’t negotiate because there is no one to negotiate with’. There are lots of people we can talk to, but they need to stand up and lead their people, too. If they don’t, we must be clear that the people who wish to demonstrate won’t engage, communicate or share what they intend to do with us, and so our policing tactics will have to be different … slightly more extreme.

Brutality was not limited to the police. A security thug attacked a protester. The security thug refused to give his name, was not carrying ID as required by law. If anyone was a witness to the attack, has film footage, or knows who he is, please contact UK Uncut.

Vodafone (£6 billion unpaid tax) were targeted and their stores occupied. Their Oxford Street store in London was once again occupied.

Vodafone acceded to the repressive regime in Egypt and shut down their network, giving yet another reason to shut down Vodafone shops. When the Egyptians finally take back control of their country they should seize the network from Vodafone and hand to another network operator. I suggest Grameen Bank in Bangladesh who operate the largest mobile network in Bangladesh. It can then be run as a social business for the benefit of the Egyptian people, not as a cash cow for tax dodger Vodafone.

Tax dodger Tesco Every Fiddle Helps, were targeted. Not content with destroying our towns, leaching money out of the local economy, Tesco dodge their taxes. Tesco avoid over £100 million in tax despite making £3 billion in profit

In Lincoln a small Guerilla action emptied the shelves of Tesco.

– Kraft owns Cadbury’s and have moved HQ to Switzerland to avoid around £60m in tax, despite Kraft making £590m in profit in 2010
– Walkers crisps: potatoes, workers, factories & Gary Lineker. All British, except the profits held in Switzerland to avoid tax

Please note Green and Black chocolate are now owned by Cadbury’s. The leveraged buy out of Cadbury’s by Kraft was financed by the taxpayer-owned bank RBS.

Shame on the BBC who once again had a news black out on the day of action. But space could be found for an item on a has-been boy band who will be at the Eurovision Song Contest!

In the Lake District thousands of people turned out to oppose the sell-off of our woods and foreests.

Yesterday was a day of protest in Manchester and London by students and trade unionists. The action in Manchester was notable for the carpetbagger NUS President Aaron Porter being chased down the street by fellow students! And police please note: No kettles, no violence!

UK Uncut will feature on Newsnight BBC Two at 2230 GMT Monday 31 January 2011.

Note: An edited version of this article posted on Indymedia UK was censored raising once again questions as to the credibility of Indymedia UK. Indymedia UK has already been exposed as bunch of liars with their false claims that they do not retain the IP addresses of those who use the site.

We are all in it together
Bringing the Hospital to Boots
Press release: UK Uncut condemns political policing at peaceful protest
CS spray used on UK Uncut protest
Police use CS spray on tax protesters
Video appears to show police using CS spray on tax protester
Clamping down on UK Uncut
UK Uncut strikes high street stores
UK Uncut protesters force closure of Boots store in Oxford Street
Poll reveals widespread suspicion of NHS reforms
UK Uncut: The Twitter Network Revealed
Pics: #ukuncut shut Ox st Boots in NHS cuts action
Police pepper spray #ukuncut protesters
UK Uncut, the start of something beautiful
MPs’ defiance at Grizedale forest protest
Britain’s woods and forests for sale
Bailgate Pound

We are not the Topshop generation

December 30, 2010
Vodafone protest

Vodafone protest

Peoples’ reactions of surprise when I tell them that I’m balancing studying for my GCSEs with actively fighting the recently announced public sector cuts never fail to shock me. After all, the student demonstrations that were recently held nationwide when it was announced that the ConDem government was pushing for an increase in tuition fees, throwing the life plans of many young people into uncertainty, received widespread media attention and were one the main reasons for the gap between the majority voting in favour of the rise and minority voting against the rise being slashed by 75%, proving that not only do teenagers have a voice but we are being listened to, especially when we’re fighting to defend our rights.

I’ve been interest in politics for as long as I can remember. My dad was involved in politics and often took me along to Stop The War meetings and demonstrations all over the country, encouraging me to develop my own political opinions. However, when he left England for work when I was 14 I became less involved, until this September, when, furious over the Tory’s plans to cut NHS funding, I went to the demonstration in Birmingham outside the Conservative Party Conference were I met the wonderful Anna (@thespyglass) on the bus there who told me Twitter helped her get involved in political events. I joined immediately, and its become my main platform for finding out about new events and planning them as well. Its also how I found out about UKUncut.

The appeal of UKUncut is obvious, not only does it oppose the cuts that will effect every section of society, particularly the most vulnerable, but it also provides solution to the cuts: getting the money back from the big businesses like Arcadia and HSBC who have taken it from the tax payers’ pocket. The direct action protests are creative, effective and, perhaps most importantly (for me at least), not violent. Despite what some newspapers and David Cameron would have you believe, the majority of people my age do realise that smashing up war monuments and throwing fire extinguishers off of tall buildings is not the most effective way to get people to empathise with us.

Also, UKUncut is easy to get involved in. You can post an event on the website just a week in advance and people will come along and join you, regardless of who you are, it doesn‘t even require a great deal patience, with social networking being such a key part of spreading the message its likely that someone will let you know they‘ll be joining you within hours. The movement is snowballing and everyone, from OAPs to housewives to GCSE students like me are being heard, with over 50 events across the country held yesterday, it doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can stand on the front line and oppose the tax avoidance and Tory Cuts that are damaging our public sector.

Of course, I sometimes question whether this is the right time of life for me to be so politically active, especially when I’m in the run up to so many important exams, but the way things are going I’m not going to able to get into university anyway, regardless of exam results, and my doubts never last long, although it did worry me when I arrived home from the Pay Day warm-up protest I’d organised on Thursday to revise for the French GCSE I had the next day to find the majority of my anxieties had lifted – I was more worried about people turning up and what I’d say to the Guardian than I was about doing well in an important exam (fortunately my exam went well, and hopefully next time I‘ll be just as lucky). Whilst some people in my year at school do think its weird that, at the weekend, they’re getting off with people at parties whilst the only parties I’m gossiping about are the political ones, I’m greeted with support everywhere I go, my parents realise that it’ll have a good impact on my future, my friends think its really interesting, and even my teachers are more likely to wish me good luck than send disapproving glances my way, and I really hope that other people in a similar situation as me are just as lucky.

Because its not just me, I’m certain there are loads of other 15-year-olds across the country who are fuming about the way the politicians (whose university educations were paid for by our parents and grandparents) aren’t seeing us as capable people with bright futures but merely as drains on society. No, we are the future, and we are fighting for our future, not because we want to but because we need to, because we’re mad as hell and people need to know about it, of course its difficult but, for me and the hundreds of other teenagers who think like me, because there will be others, sitting down and taking it is simply not an option.

An excellent article by Anna Mason (@magiczebras), member of Liverpool Uncut, originally posted on UK Uncut.

Also see

UK Uncut Brighton – Sir Philip Green’s Christmas Payday

Sir Philip Green is Sponging Off the State

Shop a Scrounger

Captain SKA – Liar Liar

Tax dodgers shut down again

UK Uncut Brighton – Sir Philip Green’s Christmas Payday

December 21, 2010
BHS banner drop Brighton

BHS banner drop Brighton

Last Saturday, the busiest shopping weekend of the year, UK Uncut successfully shut down tax dodgers across the country. One such location was Brighton.

Two Santas got arrested for superglueing to Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia stores in Brighton. BHS, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and the whole of Churchill Square shopping centre was closed for parts of the day. Activists on the roof dropped a huge “Stop Tax Dodgers” banner and the police arrived in disproportionate numbers. Even if you don’t believe in Santa, this can’t have been the Christmas you had in mind…

Sir Philip Green avoided £285m in UK income tax by paying his wife a £1.2billion dividend in 2005 and is now employed as the Governments “efficiency” adviser, ie advises on cutting public services.

Also see

Santa glues himself to BHS before being arrested

Tax dodgers shut down again

Sir Philip Green is Sponging Off the State

Shop a Scrounger

Captain SKA – Liar Liar

Lone Protests Against Tax Avoiders

December 15, 2010
Abi Daker Topshop protest 2010

Abi Daker Topshop protest 2010

Inspired by the UK Uncut Tax Avoidance campaign and the anti-Top Shop protests on Saturday 4th December, I decided to stage my own small protest in the afternoon. Essentially, it was a one-woman protest in Top Shop – I simply requested either that the shop let me pay for my item exclusive of VAT so that I could pay it directly to the revenue myself, or that they signed a form which guaranteed that the company would pay the VAT to the revenue and confirm to me in writing that this had been done. I wanted to express my disgust at tax avoiders like Philip Green in the only way I was able to at the time, by expressing my distrust in his handling of the company’s tax affairs. I did not wish to inconvenience the staff of the store so I was very polite and gave them chocolate to thank them for letting me make my protest. You can read my blog about it here.

On Sunday 12th December I carried out another protest along the same lines, this time in Evans in Kingston. The manager took my request to withhold the VAT seriously, and after about a 10-minute wait while she went to phone head office – during which time I handed out leaflets about my protest to other shoppers by way of apology for inconveniencing them – she returned and agreed to let me pay for the items, less the VAT of 74p. She signed my form and I gave her a duplicated copy, and promised to confirm to her in writing when I’ve sent the 74p and letter of explanation off to the Inland Revenue. She said that her main concern was not being accused of having a short till, so the form was important to her. However, I did note that the receipt she gave me listed the 74p as ‘promotional’, not as VAT. However, I will include a copy of the receipt in my letter to the revenue by way of explanation. I finished off my protest by passing a Santa hat filled with chocolates & sweeties around the staff, who were very good-natured and interested throughout my protest.

After my blog about the original protest went live on Monday night, the idea ran swiftly round Twitter and the internet, and seemed to capture people’s imagination. Others pledged to join me by making similar protests, and I began to see the potential for a nationwide campaign of very polite, individual, chocolate-giving protests, which could run alongside all the other non-violent and creative protests currently targeted against the Arcadia Group. If there are no sit-ins or other actions planned for your area, why not carry out your own lone protest whenever it suits you – and you don’t have to be a woman to take part! It would be lovely to have hundreds of people across the country making their own solo protests from now until Christmas – and beyond if necessary!

I have written a 10-step guide to carrying out your own protest, which is posted below.

UK Uncut’s Pay Day is planned for Saturday 18th December, and it would be fantastic to coordinate a day of individual protests against the Arcadia group stores. If a group of you go along, spread yourselves out through the queues at various tills in the shop and don’t all go in at once. And perhaps not while there’s another demo going on nearby – the aim is not to attract the police or security. I propose that interested people use Twitter and Facebook to find others in their area to coordinate timings. Don’t add a time to your initial message – organise the times privately amongst yourselves for maximum impact.

To organise via Twitter: To join up with others carrying out One Woman Protests on PayDay, tweet the name of the shop you plan to protest in, the town and the hashtag #onewomanprotest. Sample tweet: ‘Topshop Oxford Circus #onewomanprotest’. Then click on the hashtag and use the advanced search at the top of the page to find others planning a protest in the same town and/or store. Search for your town name in the ‘All of these words’ box, with the hashtag ‘onewomanprotest’ in the ‘This hashtag’ box (you don’t need to add the # symbol.) When you find someone planning a similar action nearby, feel free to tweet them to coordinate your protests throughout the day for maximum impact, rather than everyone descending at one time en masse. You could also arrange to meet up with them before and after for moral and mutual support!

To organise via Facebook, click here.

I’ve set up a public Facebook event to coordinate meeting up with others. Please post your town and the name of the shop you plan to protest in in the comments section here. Then search the page for your town name. When you find someone planning a similar action nearby, message them to coordinate your protests throughout the day for maximum impact, rather than everyone descending at one time en masse. You could also arrange to meet up with them before and after for moral and mutual support.

If you aren’t a member of either site and would like another way to contact others, I suggest you use the comments section on my blog. You will need to enter an email address with your name so that you are contactable.

How to carry out your lone protest:

• Extreme politeness is the key

• Individual protesters make more impact than a crowd because companies can see their customers walking out of the door, one by one, all day, or managers have to take personal responsibility for the company’s VAT affairs

• Chocolates or similar for the staff as a thank you are essential

1. Be prepared:

Before you start, download, adapt and print out the forms to use in your protest and flyers to hand to other shoppers.

2. Please take responsibility for your protest and put your own name to it:

I’m aware that if this protest idea takes off, my name will be associated with it. I am happy with that – I put my own name and address on the flyers I first used in Top Shop because I would actually like to receive reassurance from the company about their business practices. Therefore, I urge you not to make this an anonymous protest but to put your correct name and address on the flyers please.

3. Be realistic in choosing your target:

For this to work, you need to be prepared to buy the product you take to the till. If you’re picking a store to make your protest in, make sure it’s one you would normally shop in. Remember, you’re making this protest as an actual consumer of the shop involved, and expressing your disappointment and loss of trust in their brand. You need to be able to make it clear truthfully to the staff that you would have shopped there had they only been able to provide the requested guarantees that they can be trusted. And should your protest be accepted, you need to pay for the purchase, so if it’s clothes, do try them on just in case!

Here’s a list of Arcadia stores, the chain run by Sir Philip Green: Wallis, Top Shop, Top Man, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Evans & Outfit. BHS is also owned by the same company. If you want to apply these tactics elsewhere, you could try withholding the VAT on your Vodafone bill – obviously you will need to be an existing customer of theirs for this to work!

4. Don’t draw attention to yourself before you start your protest:

The idea is to start your protest at the till, so browse beforehand, decide what you want to buy, try it on if appropriate and generally act like an ordinary customer. You need to be prepared with your sums and flyers before going to the till, so if necessary, note the price of the item and leave the shop for a while in order to do this – or fill them in in the changing rooms. Too many people standing in corners using their phone calculators and scribbling will draw attention to the protest before it starts and – if it takes off across the UK – security might ask you to leave before you get to the till. Once you’re ready, take your item to the till and queue as you normally would. See below for detailed instructions on preparing the forms*.

5. Be polite and respectful while making your protest:

The staff are not to blame for the corporate culture of the store, so be polite at all times, but do take your request as high as you are able while at the counter. This could include asking staff to ring head office. This is good as you then have time to talk to the queue you are delaying about what you are doing and why. Hand out flyers for them to find out more and inform themselves about the issues so they can make a choice for themselves about where to shop. Don’t force anyone to take a flyer – this is your protest, not theirs. See below for suggestions about what to say at the till**.

6. End your protest by thanking the staff for allowing you to make it:

I tried to make sure all the staff I’d spoken to could hear that they were included in my thank you, and I gave them chocolate as a gift for letting me make my protest. Company policy is not their fault, after all!

7. Start and finish your protest in a timely fashion:

Don’t start your protest until you reach the till, to avoid alerting security or annoying other shoppers – or messing up the pitch for other lone protesters who may be in the store unknown to you! Talk to other shoppers and staff politely whilst in the midst of your protest. Once you have thanked staff and given them a token of your appreciation, leave the store quickly and quietly, saying no more about it. The aim is not to cause any fuss or chaos – just for the company to see its potential customers walking out of the store without making a purchase, or for them to have the hassle of taking personal responsibility for their company’s tax affairs.

8. Have your support in place for afterwards:

While it didn’t take too long to psych myself up to carry out the protest, I found myself quite wobbly when I came out due to the unusual bravery involved, so perhaps arrange to phone or meet friends for a postmortem session somewhere out of earshot afterwards to let off steam from the adrenaline rush!

9. Report your protest to inspire others:

If you’re on Twitter, please use the hashtag #onewomanprotest on any reports. I thought it might be good to have something shorter but that one seems to be quite popular already and some very unscientific straw polls agreed with me. Men, go ahead and protest too but please use the same hashtag to link the reports together.

Feel free to blog your experiences and spread the links widely on Twitter and Facebook – the more people who know about this, the better.

10. Follow up any successes:

If you’ve managed to withhold your tax, send your cheque off to the address on the form immediately, and keep a record of the date, cheque number etc to show if asked. It could also be a good idea to send the shop full details of this payment for their accounting records – ask at the time of the protest if they need this confirmation and comply with any requests they make.

If you manage to get the guarantee form signed, follow it up after 30 days, which is a reasonable amount of time for them to have paid the tax onwards. Remember, follow up the person whose name is on the flyer as you’ve asked them to sign on behalf of the company.

*Prepare your forms:

Divide the cost of the item by 1.175 to find out how much the item costs less tax, then subtract this from the total to find out how much the tax is. Eg £20 /1.175 = £17.02. £20-£17.02 = £2.98. (This sum will change on 1st January when the new VAT rate comes in.)

Form 1: Withheld tax

Fill in the date, your name and address, the branch name and store name, the amount you intend to pay and the amount of tax you intend to withhold.

Form 2: Guarantee for shop to pay tax

Fill in the date, your name and address, the branch name and store name and the total value of the items, including the VAT element as well.

If your protest is successful, fill in an identical copy of whichever form the shop agrees to, and get them to sign this too, so that both parties have a record of the transaction and pledge.

**What to say – here are my suggested wordings:

Allow the staff to ring up your items and ask you for the total amount. At that point, say ‘I will only be able to pay xx [the total excluding VAT] today, as based on the business ethics of Sir Philip Green, I’m not sure I can trust your company to pay this tax on to the government. I intend to pay the VAT of xx [state amount of VAT due] to the government directly by sending a cheque to HM Revenue & Customs myself. I need you to sign this form to confirm that I have done this please.’ You may need to repeat this several times to various members of staff as the query is escalated.

If they refuse this approach, take out the second form and say, ‘OK, I understand. In that case, I will need you to sign this form to confirm on behalf of [xx store] that the VAT will be paid correctly to the government and that you will write to me to confirm once this has been done.’

If they refuse this approach too, say politely ‘Would be able to go and ring head office to check please, as I’d really like to buy this item but I am still worried about the tax question and need reassurances from you.’

If all these approaches are rebuffed, then say politely ‘I’m afraid I won’t be able to buy this item then, but thank you for allowing me to make my protest against your company’s business practices. Here’s a little something for the staff to apologise for any disruption I’ve caused. Thank you very much for your help.’

GOOD LUCK everyone and let me know how it goes!

Guest post on UK Uncut by Bryony Evens, who on 4 December 2010 staged an intrepid one woman protest in Topshop.

I have my qualms on this tactic. It means you are obliged to buy something in Topshop and I would rather people did not buy. But if you insist, then it enables you to protest at the same time.

Other alternative one person protests: Slip flyers in the pockets of the clothes, stick up posters in the changing rooms, re-arrange the clothes, take a pile of clothes to the check out, offer to pay when Sir Philip Green pays his tax.


Tax Justice Network

Tax Research UK Blog

False Economy

Also see

Tax justice: Back on the agenda

Vodafone tax protest made me smile

Sir Philip Green is Sponging Off the State

Shop a Scrounger

What we’re arguing against and what we’re fighting for

Captain SKA – Liar Liar

Topshop day of action against tax dodger Sir Philip Green

Why cuts are the wrong cure

If ever there was a campaign that Tories should support …

Sir Philip Green is Sponging Off the State

December 12, 2010
Phil Pays No Tax

Phil Pays No Tax

You would be sent to prison if you claimed all your British wages ‘really’ belonged to your wife in a foreign tax haven and refused to pay any tax on it. But not Philip Green. You would be sent to prison if you claimed a massive chunk of your income ran through a post office box in Luxembourg and refused to pay any tax on it. But not Vodafone.

UK Uncut is standing up for the 99.99 percent of British people who pay our taxes – and are disgusted to see that super-rich billionaires don’t. They are being allowed to pay nothing, by both the Tories and before them New Labour.

The new government claims our national debt requires a massive program of cuts. In reality, our national debt has been higher for almost all of our history since 1750. But even if the debt was a reason to panic, almost all the savings they claim are necessary can be found simply from making the super-rich pay the £25bn in taxes they legally owe and are currently dodging. Instead, David Cameron and his tax-dodging chancellor George Osborne are choosing to make you pay – even though you did nothing to cause this crisis.

We are the overwhelming majority. Some 77 percent of us want to crack down on tax dodging hard. Let the politicians who sneer at this campaign – from Labour’s Tom Harris MP to the Tory Tim Montgomerie – make their case. They will be loathed by their constituents for siding with Philip Green and Vodafone and the army of tax-dodgers over their own electorate. Let’s amplify their voices: people should know who is letting this happen, and how feeble their excuses are.

But for now, let’s just deal with one of the arguments the defenders of tax-dodging offer. Philip Green works hard, shows entrepreneurial flair, and earns his money by himself, they say, so what right do we have to ask him to pay money to us?

I’d like, for one year, in one branch of Top Shop, to test that idea. It’s a simple experiment. For twelve months, we’ll deny any publicly funded services to that store. When the rubbish piles up, we won’t send bin-men to collect it. When the rat outbreak begins, we won’t send pest control. When they catch a shoplifter, we won’t send the police. When there’s a fire, we won’t send the fire brigade. When the suppliers want to get their goods to the store, there may be a problem: we won’t maintain the roads any more. When the staff get sick, we won’t treat them in the NHS. When you interview for new staff, you’ll find they can’t read, because you can only choose people who have not received any state education.

Then come back to us after that year, Philip Green, and tell us you do it all yourself, and don’t owe anything to us. Taxes are the membership dues for a civilised society – and we’re going to make you pay.

Originally posted as a guest blog on UK Uncut by Johann Hari (twitter), columnist for The Independent newspaper.

The Budget Deficit is not as large as the ConDem Coalition would like us to believe. We are not staring into the abyss. Yes, it should be reduced, but at a rate the economy can cope with. The alleged Budget Deficit is being used as an excuse for slash and burn of public services.

Were tax dodgers like Sir Philip Green (owner of Arcadia Group which owns Topshop), Vodafone, Boots, SABMiller (owners of Grolsch) to pay their taxes, there would be no Budget Deficit.

Were tax dodgers like Sir Philip Green (owner of Arcadia Group which owns Topshop), Vodafone, Boots, SABMiller (owners of Grolsch) to pay their taxes, there would have been no need to have trippled student fees, to slash university teaching grants by 80%, to take away from the poorest students their Educational Maintance Grant of £30 a week (probably less than a millionaire Cabinet Members spends on lunch).

Sir Philip Green, billionaire boss of Arcadia, who owns Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge among others. Arcadia is owned by Taveta Investments Limited, which is registered to an office on the tax-haven island of Jersey. Taveta Investments is owned by Green’s family members living in Monaco, where income tax is 0%. It’s estimated Green avoided paying £285 million in tax in 2005 alone.

Nor can it be claimed that it is the hard work of Sir Philip Green that has earned him this money. It is the hard work of the wage slaves who work in his stores, many of them students trying to make ends meet.

Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill, a tax bill which if paid would mean the £7 billion welfare cuts would have not been necessary.


Tax Justice Network

Tax Research UK Blog

False Economy

Also see

Shop a Scrounger

What we’re arguing against and what we’re fighting for

Captain SKA – Liar Liar

A sad day for democracy

Topshop day of action against tax dodger Sir Philip Green

Why cuts are the wrong cure

Grolsch tax avoidance

Grateful Vodafone executives say a big thank you to Chancellor George Osborne

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill

Shop a Scrounger

December 4, 2010

What do Topshop (Sir Philip Green Arcadia Group), Vodafone, SABMiller (brewers of Grolsch), Boots, Barclays and now Cadbury’s, all have in common? They all dodge their taxes.

We all pay our taxes. We may not like it, but it is part of our civic duty, part of our obligation to the Big Society. But not it seems if we are big enough. If we are big enough or rich enough, we get away with paying little or no tax.

The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be demonised, to be called a scrounger. A whole army of informers and investigators has been enlisted to target these people, shop a scrounger we are told in government media campaigns.

But who are these scroungers? The single Mum who puts in a few hours down the pub to make ends meet, the extra bit of cash-in-hand that makes the difference between her kids having new clothes or not.

A pensioner unable to pay his or her Council Tax is thrown into prison. A small business struggling to meet the tax demand will be put out of business. But if you are rich enough or big enough you pay little or no tax.

It was the greedy bankers who got the economy into a mess. And who bailed them out? The long-suffering taxpayers. And who makes up the shortfall? The poor and disadvantaged by having their welfare cut.

The tax that is not being paid has been calculated to be twice that of the budget deficit. That is if those who did not pay their taxes were forced to do so, not only would there be no need for cuts in public spending, there would be money to spend on railways, on insulating homes, on developing new greener technologies, on providing a national fast broadband infrastructure, on paying students to go to university, for more nurses and teachers, for repair of crumbling schools, for sports facilities for all.

Wealthy people and corporations avoiding and evading tax cost the UK £120 billion per year. That’s enough to cancel out the spending cuts twice over between now and 2014. By contrast, estimated cost of people over-claiming benefits costs the government £1 billion per year – roughly equal to the amount of tax dodged by Barclays Bank alone.

Who are the real scroungers?

Vodafone were let off a £6 billion tax bill. Their financial director just happens to be advisor to the Chancellor on corporate tax.

SABMiller pay less tax in Ghana than a local stall at the market. The tax they do not pay means kids do not go to school.

Barclays have complex tax avoidance schemes in place that make money out of nothing. Money that you and I pay for for with lost tax revenue.

Boots head office is a PO Box in Switzerland. Boots is owned by a hedge fund.

Cadbury’s, now American owned, a buyout financed by taxpayer-owned RBS, looks set to follow the example of Boots.

Sir Philip Green (owner of Arcadia, owner of Topshop) avoided £300 million on his £1.2 billion dividend payout by paying it through his wife who is resident in Monaco. Green is government adviser on cutting waste, ie code for public spending cuts.

Today Topshop stores across the country were shut down in protest. In London, Topshop security thugs attacked protesters in full view of police witnesses. Will the police be bringing charges for these assaults?

And the media? To their credit, the Mail Online had excellent coverage, but from the BBC during the day a deathly silence. No mention on the BBC Radio 4 lunchtime news, but did manage to mention that a bicycle thief had been apprehended through the trail he left in the snow. What then of their flagship PM news slot at 5pm? Er nothing. Out of a half hour prime early evening news, almost 15 minutes on Spanish air traffic controllers strikes (including sob story of stranded Brits) and tut tut Fifa not awarding World Cup football to England, several minutes on Oprah Winfrey taking her show to Sydney in Australia, several minutes on Asil Nadir allegedly breaching his bail conditions, a few second mention of climate protesters on the streets of London (blink and you would have missed it) but absolutely zilch on concerned citizens shutting down Topshop stores and the scandal of tax avoidance by the likes of Sir Philip Green and the implications it has for all of us in loss of public services. But there was coverage on the BBC Radio 4 6pm news. Channel 4 News once again put BBC to shame.


Tax Justice Network

Tax Research UK Blog

False Economy

Also see

Topshop day of action against tax dodger Sir Philip Green

Why cuts are the wrong cure

How SAB Miller escapes tax in developing countries

Grolsch tax avoidance

Mayhem in Oxford St as protesters target stores including Topshop’s flagship branch over firms avoiding tax bills

Tax protests: at last people have a way to express their anger

Cadbury’s secret Swiss move will cost UK exchequer millions in tax

Topshop’s flagship London store hit by tax protest

The day the teenagers turned on Topshop

Haringey Vodafone unpaid tax protest

Grateful Vodafone executives say a big thank you to Chancellor George Osborne

Nationwide shut down of Vodafone stores

Vodafone £6 billion unpaid tax bill

Cadbury goes Swiss to avoid British tax: Move by U.S. bosses will cost Treasury £60 million a year

UK Uncut targets Topshop and Vodafone over tax arrangements

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