UK Uncut has chosen a sunny Saturday afternoon to take to the streets of Croydon to protest against cuts by the government and our council, while tax dodgers are being given an easy ride.
TopShop, Vodafone and the town centre banks might find trading a little difficult today. Among UK Uncut’s focus of attention are likely to be two local care homes, both run by financial basketcase Southern Cross, which is ultimately owned by a company based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
Hmmm. Wonder whether UK Uncut are aware of the employment background of Croydon Central’s MP, and how his election campaign received financial support from the Conservatives’ tax-dodger-in-chief Michael Ashcroft?
The protesters, with the backing of public services union GMB, are to gather by the Whitgift Centre in Croydon around noon.
In an “SOS from the People of Croydon” issued this week, UK Uncut said: “We are under attack! A monstrous Coalition of Dark Forces has descended upon London’s biggest borough, intent on ripping out its heart and feeding it to a race of evil vultures known only as ‘The Bankers’. They have already destroyed our Arts Centre.
“Now, they want to close down our Youth Centres, privatise our libraries, devastate the UK Borders Agency and slash teaching jobs at Croydon College. They will never have their fill of human misery. Not satisfied with that, our (appropriately named) Mayday Hospital will be next in line for the vultures as it will have to cut costs by 20 per cent in real terms in order to survive the onslaught.”
GMB members have this week been involved in a banner-making workshop with children from Timebridge Youth Club in New Addington which is facing closure due to cuts being made by Croydon council.
The organisers are asking anyone thinking about attending the protest to “bring a small book, in case we decide to remind a tax-dodger how many libraries his unpaid taxes could keep open”, and “you may also want to wear scrubs or a doctor’s coat, in case we want to remind a banker how many nurses his unearned bonus would pay for”.
They stress: “Remember that this will be a peaceful, creative direct action! We are not intending to break any laws or get arrested. We will request legal observers to be present.”
Oban House and Elmwood care homes’ tax haven status
Last week GMB published information on who owns the freehold of the Southern Cross care homes. These homes house elderly and vulnerable adults; most of the money to pay for Southern Cross residents comes from public funds.
More than half the homes, including the two in Croydon, are owned by companies based in tax havens. Southern Cross is teetering, putting at risk 31,000 elderly and vulnerable residents, because of sky-high rents amounting to £240 million per year, much of which ends up in offshore tax havens.
The freehold of the two Southern Cross Homes in Croydon are owned by property companies in turn owned by QIA and registered in the Cayman Island tax haven.
One is Oban House, 42-46 Bramley Hill, South Croydon, Surrey, CR2 6NS. There are 76 staff and 61 beds. The directors are Paul Thompson, Jeremy Jensen. And the company owned by QIA is Libra Careco Offshore Topco Ltd (Cayman Islands).
The other is Elmwood, 32 Elmwood Road, Croydon, Surrey, CR0 2SG. There are 63 staff and 60 beds. The directors are Paul Thompson, Jeremy Jensen; and the company owned by QIA is Libra Careco Offshore Superholdco Ltd (Cayman Islands). Both are part of NHP Limited.
This week NHP announced that the plan to run these homes as well instead of Southern Cross which has suspended its shares on the Stock Exchange.
- For more information on the tax advantages enjoyed by the likes of Top Shop owner Philip Green, click here.
- Click here for information on how City bankers, despite being bailed out by public money, continue to reward themselves – £7 billion last year, enough to pay for 490,000 NHS nurses.
- And through “efficient” tax “vehicles”, the banks contrive to swerve their tax obligations in the UK, too. Barclays alone dodged £2.5 billion in tax on its £11 billion profits. The sponsored Boris Bikes scheme in central London? Barclays pay out more to chief banker Bob Diamond in bonuses.
- Boots the chemists pays just 3 per cent tax on its profits. The company, proudly founded in Nottingham and still making half its profits from its British customers, now operates its “headquarters” from a PO Box in Switzerland
- Vodafone avoided most of a £6 billion tax bill after coming to a cosy agreement with HMRC. The £5 billion they dodged would pay for 350,000 nurses.
- HSBC has made £38 million profit at UK taxpayers’ expense from publicly subsidised PFI schemes. The profits were banked in the tax haven of Guernsey and HSBC paid less than 1 per cent tax on them.
- Croydon vs Banks & Tax Dodgers (lambethsaveourservices.org)
- Shapps: Croydon’s “breathtaking incompetence” on Council Tax (insidecroydon.com)
- Gavin Barwell’s website, payments and councillors on his staff (insidecroydon.wordpress.com)
- Met police are accused of pursuing a ‘vindictive’ case against UK Uncut tax protesters. (thetruthiswhere.wordpress.com)