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UK Uncut targets Vodaphone in new wave of tax dodging protests

Vodaphone tax dodging actionThe announcement that anti-austerity direct action group UK Uncut is to target Vodaphone in a new wave of protests follows wide anger at news of Gary Barlow’s tax dodge. The campaign expects hundreds to take action against the mobile phone company in a “national day of action” on 14 June in protest against their tax dodging activities.

UK Uncut, backed by the evidence of Fair Tax campaigner and accountant Richard Murphy, claims that the mobile phone provider “hasn’t paid a penny of corporation tax since 2011”, and that forcing tax avoiders to pay their tax could avert a looming housing crisis in the UK.

Tax avoidance shot back into the headlines this week after a tribunal ruled that former Take That star Gary Barlow should pay back millions of pounds gained from investing in an aggressive tax avoidance scheme. UK Uncut campaigners have laid responsibility with the government. The group says pledges from David Cameron and George Osborne to crack down on tax avoidance by large companies have proven to be “empty words”.

The protests planned to take place on 14 June will focus on how tax dodging is crippling the UK’s social housing sector. A statement on UK Uncut’s website said they will “transform Vodafone branches up and down the country into living rooms, shelters, refuges, bedrooms and hostels”. The group say they expect dozens of stores around the UK to be affected. The announcement comes as official statistics on housebuilding show the supply of homes continuing to lag behind demand, and as news emerges that hostels are turning away the homeless due to a lack of available accommodation.

Vodafone was the first company to be targeted by a series of high-profile protests by UK Uncut for avoiding a £6bn tax bill in 2010. The action is due to take place just six weeks before Vodafone’s AGM and less than a year before the general election in which the government’s record on tackling tax avoidance while slashing public spending will be centre stage.

UK Uncut supporter Uma Dagenheart, 23, said:

It’s outrageous that after four years of the public demanding action, the government has done nothing to make giants like Vodafone – or millionaires like Barlow – pay their tax. We are suffering from a housing crisis in this country and the tax that Vodafone owes could pay for thousands of new homes.

Tara Jackson, 28, who will be taking place in the protest said:

The government were lying when they said they were serious about making rich companies pay their fair share. It’s time we reminded the government how angry people are that their mates in the City can get away with multi-billion pound tax bills while the rest of us suffer.”

Image credit: photo by UK Uncut, artwork by Left Futures

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