65 activists have today stopped trading at Vodafone’s largest retail store on Oxford Street, London, by blockading the doorway in disgust at the HMRC’s deal with Vodafone that have allowed them to walk away from paying a tax bill thought to be worth £6bn to the public purse.
The action started at 09:30 this morning where activists gathered at The Ritz hotel near Oxford Street following rapid mobilization over the weekend via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and text messaging.
The 65 activists confronted the minor security in front of the shop to gain entry to the shop and proceeded to blockade the entrance with arm tubes and banners before the store had chance to even receive its first customer.
This comes exactly a week after George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review in which he announced that another £7bn will be cut from welfare, producing a total of £18bn of cuts from vital welfare services.
These cuts have been widely condemned by charity groups representing the most vulnerable in society, and the highly respected Institute of Fiscal Studies confirmed on Thursday last week that the coalition’s cuts will indeed hit the poorest in society the hardest.
The issue of tax evasion by corporations and the wealthy was not however even mentioned during Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review speech, despite the fact that it is estimated that the deficit to the public purse from tax evasion amounts to at least £12bn each year.
To add salt to the wound, Osborne also announced last week that large corporations in addition will be expected to contribute 4% less in tax to public services across the next four years through a reduction in corporation tax.
Activists on today’s action also note that Andy Halford is both a financial advisor to Vodafone and a corporation tax advisor to the treasury.
Under a banner that read “Pay your taxes - save our welfare state”, Jennifer Kyte said, “The cuts are not fair, we're not all in this together, and there are alternatives. Why not start by collecting - instead of writing off – the tens of billions owed in taxes by wealthy corporations?”
She continued, “The economic downturn was caused by the reckless greed of the private sector, but it is the public sector and those at the bottom that are picking up the bill. Is this their idea of the wonderful Big Society?”
Zeketa Darby said, “We will not pay for their crisis! The public need to join together and hit the streets to take concerted action to fight these cuts”