UK Uncut’s Alternative Autumn Statement

by Leila Curtis, UK Uncut supporter

An estimated £25 billion is lost annually through tax dodging, showing that this country isn’t running out of money, it’s just that the richest and most powerful individuals and corporations are not paying their fair share. The UK isn’t broke- what is broken is when a political system claims to promote the ‘big society’ while the only things getting bigger and bigger are unemployment, inequality and anger.

Public anger continues to increase as more people become aware of the many tax avoidance schemes of the rich and mighty. The poor paying their taxes, the rich- like Starbucks– none at all, is clearly completely unjust. Yet George Osborne does not have the authority to label tax avoidance as immoral because the government has directly benefited from, encouraged and rewarded those who avoid tax.  

While Osborne prepares to damage more people’s lives by making more cuts in his budget statement today- using the deficit as an excuse to cut welfare and punish the poor- we are preparing to fight back with our National Day of Action this Saturday. So far 37 actions are happening all over the UK from Aberdeen to Truro.

This Saturday women, men and children will be transforming local Starbucks into the women’s services we refuse to lose to highlight there are alternatives to these unnecessary and unjust cuts.

The government must now close the loopholes that Starbucks and other companies use to avoid paying billions in tax to the UK, instead of targeting single mums and disabled people through slashing public services, the welfare state and privatising the NHS. We don’t need cosmetic changes, or promises of months of talking – Osborne needs to take urgent action to tackle widespread tax avoidance by some of the biggest companies in the UK.

New research published this week has shown that this government, by itself, could recover up to £5.5bn each year through introducing a General Anti-Avoidance Principle. It could legislate to force companies to show that the things they’re doing to try to lower their tax bills do have some basis in the real world, which could be pretty hard if you’re claiming your coffee beans come from Switzerland like Starbucks do.

This is just a start- the UK should act to tackle its own enormous network of tax havens like Jersey and the Cayman Islands, invest massively in jobs at HMRC and push for a proper overhaul of the international tax system, not just tweaking around the edges.