Campaigners take to the streets

Stroud News and Journal: Campaigners take to the streets Campaigners take to the streets

CAMPAIGNERS will march through Stroud later this month to protest against cuts in public spending.

The demonstration - organised by the Stroud Against Cuts campaign to urge councillors to say no to treasury cuts - starts at 10am on Saturday, January 29 at Stratford Park and will end at the Sub Rooms.

Organiser Chris Moore said: "It is a disgrace that youth services and libraries are being decimated, while the wealthy get away with not paying taxes. The money is available to fund our public services if there is the political will to get it."

Mr Moore added that many big British companies were avoiding paying income tax, corporation tax and stamp duty because they were registered in offshore tax havens.

Earlier this month, VAT rose from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent, provoking angry reactions from campaigners who think the taxpayer should not be plugging the budget deficit, when big businesses avoid paying tax.

Across the country, a campaign group called UK Uncut is organising a series of demonstrations outside well-known high street companies which are registered abroad.

James Beecher, who is studying for a Phd in economics at Cardiff University, is campaigning on behalf of the group and recently organised a demonstration outside Boots in the High Street, Stroud in a bid to 'shame' the company on Tuesday, January 4 - the same day that VAT rose.

The company’s office is in Zug, Switzerland, meaning it can legally avoid paying tax to the UK government.

Mr Beecher, 26, who lives in Stroud, said: "It is unfair that companies are able to pay less than their workers pay in tax.

"Just because it is legal does not mean it is morally right.

"We are constantly facing the lie that there is no alternative to cuts in public spending."

James and other UK Uncut campaigners will be taking part in the march.

At present, it is perfectly legal for companies to be registered abroad but there have been calls for changes in the law.

In a statement, Boots said the company employs a large workforce, which means a big contribution to National Insurance.

It added: "This commitment to developing the business is reflected in the fact that Alliance Boots has not paid any dividends to its shareholders since 2007 and its focus has been, and will remain, on investing in its businesses going forward."

The power to make changes to the system - which allows millions of pounds to be funnelled untaxed through offshore havens such as the Cayman Islands - lies with Westminster.

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael said: "Everyone should pay their tax and we intend to make sure that people do this.

"We expect people to adhere to tax paying regulations. We need to think about the future of British business and have introduced a tax on banking."

The exchequer secretary to the treasury, MP David Gauke, said: "The Government is fully committed to tackling tax avoidance and will take necessary steps to protect the exchequer and maintain fairness in the tax system."

box off: ZSEM2515V11 John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network will give a presentation at the Sub Rooms on Thursday, January 20 at 7.30pm called The Rise And Rise Of Britain’s Tax Haven Empire.

Mr Christensen was chief economist to the Jersey government for nine years, giving him an insight into how the tax haven system works, and has subsequently campaigned for tighter regulations.

Tickets costing £5 can be purchased from the Sub Rooms box office on 01453 760960.

box off MORE than 10,000 people have signed a petition against library cuts in Gloucestershire - double the amount needed to provoke a debate at the county council.

Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries handed over the signatures on January 5.

Because more than 5,000 signatures were collected, it means the council must debate the issue again.

This will take place on Wednesday, January 19, when the petition will also be presented.

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