Stop the Cuts

March 26th - A trip to Fortnum and Mason

I was at the UK Uncut F&M event for a little over an hour, but left shortly after 17.00 because of my nicotine addiction and failure to think to bring any patches.

On my first attempt to leave I was asked to wait by police, as they were (so they said) worried about more people entering the store. On a second attempt I was allowed to leave, but it was apparent that some sort of kettle was being set up outside. This would probably have been @ 17.15. It strains credulity that a police Chief Inspector inside the store would not have been aware of this kettle or its purpose.

To the best of my knowledge this was a peaceful attempt to raise awareness of F&M's unusual tax arrangements, which I suspect would require a very good accountant to unravel. I am fairly sure that neither staff nor customers were intimidated or prevented from carrying out any legitimate business that they might wish.

I believe that UK Uncut's events are very much in the public interest. I cannot comment on the accuracy of the £40 million figure that F&M is reported to have avoided, but have seen a number of their claims for other businesses to be broadly supported in stories by the media (Guardian, ES, BBC).

If F&M's business practices are unethical, then it should surely be a legitimate aim to make the public and possibly their customers aware of this fact. The question would be this was a legitimate means to acheive that aim.

In as much as those who were there did not prevent or attempt to prevent staff or customers from carrying out legitimate activities, my personal view is that no aggravated trespass took place. But I'm not a judge.

Those who were there probably have a right to consider themselves political prisoners to some extent, because they are challenging not just F&M's business ethics, but what they see as a corrupt tax system that protects big business but fails to take care or the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. I wish all the peaceful protestors who became victims of the system on March 26th the very best.

4th April 2011

Barclays is target of UK Uncuts "bail-ins" as they pay only 2.4% tax on profits

Today saw branches of Barclays Bank around the country become the target of protestors who feel that they should be paying a far greater share of the cost of the recovery from a recession for which banks must take a very large share of the blame. Banks were turned into libraries, child care centres, youth centres and other services that are being cut as a result of the coalitions decision to fund the bail out of the finance sector by slashing public services.

Channel 4 video of the Barclays Bank protests

19th February 2011

Worldwide campaign for higher taxes on finance sectors begins

The TUC reports on a worldwide campaign to ensure that the finance sector pays its fair share of the bill to recover from the recession. G20 Finance Ministers, in particular those from the UK, France and Germany will be lobbied by thousands of trade unions to make sure that their members are not left footing the bill for the banks' greed and mistakes.

17th February 2011

Anti Cuts protestors demonstrate outside Uxbridge Civic Centre

This evening around 250 demonstrators including over 100 children gathered outside Uxbridge Civic Centre to protest at a series of vicious cuts being implemented by Ray Puddifoot's Tory council. The children were their especially to challenge the council's decision to close the Hillingdon Music Service, which provides tuition in music for youngsters. Others were there to contest the decisions to close or reduce a range of services, including Jobcentre Plus's Connexions service, which helps get the unemployed back to work.




For anyone who wants to get involved in the Hillingdon Against the Cuts (HAC) campaign, their website is at

17th February 2011

Tory students lampoon Cameron, Osbourne and Clegg

To the embarassment of Tories, students at York University's Conservative group placed a series of posters on its Facebook page lampooning David Cameron, Geiorge Osbourne and Nick Clegg. While a similar series of posters from official Labour sources might well be seen as unsporting and the result of fininishing in second place in the general election, we see no reason not to make public the fact that even some Tories are becoming disillusioned with their leadership.

In fact, this is not the first sign that York students have reacted to Cameron's leadership. Last year, the head of the university's Tory group began asking voters to support the UK Independence Party, which resulted in his being removed from his position. However, the rises in fees and cuts to budgets for tutors has begun to create a backlash in the education system, even though students currently at university will not experience the worst of the coalition's changes.

15th February 2011

Cameron's housing and benefit reforms will hit poor and disabled hardest

David Cameron's plans for housing reform have been attacked by Labour and Green MPs and an Early Day Motion called to oppose the changes. Cameron's plans, which include a reduction in housing benefit and allowing council rents to be increased to 80% of the market rate. This will force out thousands of council tenants from areas with higher than average property prices. Another ConDem proposal is that council tenants will have their income reviewed every two years and be evicted if it is assessed that they can afford market rents.

Project Merlin called "a sham" as Barclays raises investment banker pay by 20%

London's Evening Standard has described the government's Project Merlin, which was meant to keep down bonuses for investment bankers "a sham" after it was revealed that Barclays Bank had given its investment bankers a 20% rise in overall pay, including bonuses. It was earlier announced that the bank had set aside nealy half of its profits for bonuses.

Project Merlin was introduced as a deal between the banks and the government in response to public anger over the banks' role in the recent recession. The deal involved the banks having a special levy imposed under Labour removed and banks promising to lend more to small/medium businesses and curb their bonuses and spread them over 3 years. However, some banks clearly do not see the need to follow the spirit of this agreement.

15th February 2011

TUC calls for volunteers to be stewards on March 26th

Anyone interested should follow the link below

15th February 2011

Government bans councils from publishing criticism of cuts program

The government has published new guidelines that limit councils to publishing a maximum of 4 newsletters a year. It also restricts what councils can say in terms of promoting themselves or criticising government or other political groups. They also prevent councils using professional lobbyists to promote local issues in Westminster..Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has said that these changes are necessary to protect taxpayers' money.

Councils have responded that the new guidelines will make it impossible to communicate with local people and keep them informed about changes to services.

12th February 2011

VAT protesters descend on Heathrow

Today saw a protest by protest group TakeVAT on Heathrow's Terminal 3, who claim that they are targetting the aviation industry because it pays no VAT on aircraft fuel. The group claim that because the fuel is untaxed that airlines save paying £9 billion annually and that the government should levy VAT rather than cutting public services such as libraries and hospitals.

Freelance photographer Jonathan Warren took a number of photographs pf the protest and the police reaction to TakeVAT, which are posted on his web page at

TakeVAT's actions mirror those of UK Uncut, who highlighted the tax avoidance techniques of Vodaphone, Arcadia, Boots and other multinational and British companies that use foreign addresses to avoid paying their full UK tax bills.

12th February 2011

Union members to lobby MPs to protect vital services

Tomorrow (Wednesday 9th February) hundreds of union members together with representatives of community services will go to Westminster to lobby MPs to protect vital services from the cuts. Many of those attending face losing their jobs if the cuts go through as expected, but others will be protesting because they or their relatives depend on services that are under threat. Around 400 organisation are faced with closure or severe underfunding as a result of planned changes.

The rally will be addressed by Unite Assistant General Secretary Diana Holland. Among the government's proposals that MPs will be asked to oppose will be the sale of Forestry Commision land, which has already generated an online petition with 460,000 names.

http://Sign the petition to protect the Forestry Commision's land

8th February 2011

Unite issues press statement ahead of NHS bill presentation

Unite has given a press statement in which it details a number of questions that it would like to be asked by Labour MPs at the committee stage of the Health and Social Care Bill tomorrow (8th February). Whilst other unions such as Unison have large numbers of members in the health service, Unite is also well represented and nearly all of our nearly one and a half million members will have concerns about how the changes might affect their health care.

Unite press statement

7th February 2011

CSV and CAB join Liverpool Council in saying "Big Society" not possible due to cuts

The head of the UK's Community Service Volunteers has said that government cuts are making it impossible for volunteers to function effectively. Mr. Cameron had hoped that volunteers would take over some of the functions that had previously been paid for by central and local government as part of his vision for a "Big Society". However, Dame Elizabeth Hoodless who has directed the CSV work for 36 years has said that there was no coordination of government plans and that cuts to council budgets were hampering their efforts. There were also indications that some volunteers were feeling that the government was taking advantage of their efforts.

In December the co-founder of the charity Community Links said that the pace of the cuts could kill off the volunteer groups that Mr. Cameron was hoping to fulfil his vision. His comments were later echoed by the Citizens Advice Bureau's Chief Executive, Gillian Guy.

Unite statement on cuts to charities and "Big Society"

7th February 2011

Institute of Directors calls for collective bargaining rights to be removed in public sector

In a move that has angered trade unions and described as a "Thatcherite fantasy" the Institute of Directors has called for collective bargaining rights to be removed from teachers and NHS staff. The institute also wants the right to request flexible working to be abolished. In all there are 24 "freebie proposals" in the IoD's recommendations - presumably free in that the government would not need to spend money, even if workers paid dearly with their livelihoods.

The right wing Institute of Directors is well known for its attacks on the rights of trade unions and workers and was in the news last month after it called for employees to be required to pay a £500 fee to submit a claim to an employment tribunal - something an unfairly sacked worker might struggle to afford. The way that the IoD's proposals were phrased make it clear that they believe that making these changes during the recovery from a recession would be an opportunity not to be missed. A representative of this organisation was seen on Newsnight last week arguing with a UK Uncut speaker who believed that whilst tax avoidance might be legal, it was still unethical. 

One would hope that Mr. Cameron ignores these proposals, because any suggestion that he might consider going down this route might very well trigger a general strike of public sector workers while it still is legal.

Unite statement about the IoD proposal

TUC response

Left Foot Forward's analysis of proposals for Tribunal fees

Boris Johnson enters row over tribunal fees

As if the above is not enough to worry about, right wing think tank, the Policy Exchange is proposing that the UK cut its ties with the European Court of Human Rights. This could prove a disaster for equalities in Britain if it comes to pass.

7th February 2011

 TUC says that "substantial cuts" to Equality Commission will hit disadvantaged groups

 Mr. Barber said 'Reducing the EHRC funding over the next three years is bad news for the most disadvantaged groups in society - the very people who will be hardest hit by public sector spending cuts".

Campaign to save Britain's libraries gets underway

A nationwide campaign to save 450 of Britain's libraries from closures due to government cuts has begun, with a series of around 80 protests planned across the country. Authors and celebrities including Phillip Pullman, Julia Donaldson, Mark Haddon, John Dougherty, and Billy Bragg are among those who will be taking part. In some areas such as Warwickshire, Dorset and Doncaster, over half of libraries are scheduled for closure. Somerset County Council had planned to close 20 of its 34 libraries but reconsidered after strong protests from local people.

The TUC considers libraries to be essential to Lifelong Learning, where all workers are encouraged to continue to learn new skills throughout their lives. Many people now rely on their libraries not just for books, but access to the internet and e-mail, so this will hit those who cannot afford their own computers particularly hard.

4th February 2011

Tories admit that they want poorer people to be deterred from university by tuition fee rises

Two Tory figures have recently stated that they are hoping that tuition fee rises will put people off from going to university. The first was Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, who wrote a quite remarkable letter in the Times newspaper 10 days ago. He also seemed to be suggesting that the NHS should be abolished so that people (who could afford it) would have their taxes reduced and have more to pay for private health care.

More recently, Tory MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson made it extremely clear that he believed that the rise in tuition fees was a good this because it might "encourage certain sections of youngsters to do something different". He also described it as ridiculous that it should be desirable that 50% of youngster be able to go to university. His use of the term "certain sections of youngsters" is highly suggestive that he believes that university should be the priviledge of an elite section of society.

For the record, John Stevenson went to the University of Dundee and Michael Gove went to a private shchool before going to Oxford University.

UK Uncut presents case on Newsnight

On Monday night's Newsnight, the BBC allowed UK Uncut to present their case why multinational corporations should not be allowed to avoid paying corporation tax at the national rate by a range of systems such as using offshore tax havens. The Institute of Directors responded on behalf of the business sector. The links below are to 3 video clips shown on Newsnight.

UK Uncut video of protests outside Boots and Vodafone

Jeremy :Paxman interview with UK Uncut and Institute of Directors

Vince Cable stating that he believes that Phillip Green's Arcadia Group shoup pay UK tax rate

2nd February 2011

Local hospitals likely to close after LibDems u-turn leaves their fate to "market forces"

Unite has condemned LibDems, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for turning their backs on promises made before the election to protect hospitals. It now appears that as a result of the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently being debated in parliament that fund managers such as BUPA may be allowed to let hospitals close without intervention from Westminster. The Bill passed its first reading in the House of Commons yesterday by 321 votes to 235, with not a single coalition member voting against it and only one abstaining.

John McDonnell MP, who met with the HLC 10 days ago alerted us to the strong possibility that the £20 billion of cuts in the NHS budget meant that one or more of the hospitals close to Heathrow might face closure. Hillingdon hospital is seen as being at particularly high risk of being a casualty of these cuts.

The health comminunity has made a number od sceptical comments about the benefits of the NHS shake up. To David Cameron's embarassment, his own brother in law, Dr. Carl Brookes has put it on record that he does not support the changes and that hospital care will be damaged.

 In fact, despite Cameron's claims that his reforms were largely supported, he was only able to name 5 bodies that were in favour, with at least 20 having stated opposition. Even the 5 organisations that were cited as being "broadly supportive" have expressed concerns about the changes. The link below is to the Daily Mirror's article on the topic.

Unite brands Vince Cable and Ed Davey "hypocrites" over NHS u-turn

Cuts in public spending and VAT rise "will result in loss of 1.6 million jobs" 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has warned that the government's program of cuts and tax rises will have a devstating effect on the UK job market over the next 4 years. 490,000 jobs in the public sector were expected to go as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review, but CIPD believes this to be an underestimate and that the actual figure will be around 725,000 jobs.

However, including private subcontractors to government departments and jobs from government contracts, there are also likely to be job losses in the private sector of 650,000. CIPD estimates that VAT rises are likely to cause another 250,000 private sector jobs to be lost.

The CIPD, which is the professional body of Human Resources advisors is not the first organisation to predict that job losses will be far more severe than official estimates, but the results of their study will concern the government as well as their opponents. The possibility of 1.6 million extra benefit claimants, 1.6 million fewer taxpayers and 1.6 million consumers with less money to spend can only mean that national growth and repayment of deficits would be at best very slow - or possibly that the UK is thrown into a second recession. We urge the government to rethink their plans.

Meanwhile, the TUC is quoting a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies that describes the government strategy as "risky" and indicates that there should be a "plan B" in case the plan for the economy proves unsuccessful.

2nd February 2011

Wealth gap between super rich and the rest of us widens

Newsnight reports that while big corporations, banks and billionaires are quickly recovering their wealth after the recession, that small businesses and the poorest people have been left behind. This is a global phenomenon and reflects how much better protection is for the wealthy than ordinary people. Even China is now seeing a wealth gap develop that is comparable with any of the capitalist nations.

Tonight's Newsnight at 22.30 will cover this issue.

1st February 2011

Top Ten Tax Shirkers - Last Day to Vote

Anti-cuts website The False Economy is conducting an online survey on who the public think are the worst offenders responsible for lost UK tax revenues. Voting closes at midnight tonight (30th January 2011). The ten nominated companies are Barclays, Boots, Google, George Osbourne, HMV, HM Customs, KMPG, Arcadia, SABMiller and of course Vodafone. Have your say -

UK Uncut reminds us that it is the last opporttunity to return our self assessment forms and the penaltes that await us if we are late or fail to pay the right amount. It also highlights the multinationals who, by avoiding paying their full share of the tax burden are making our own contributions so much higher. Find out who they will be naming and shaming today at their website below.

30th January 2011

TUC General Secretary says cuts to EHRC will hit vulnerable people hardest

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has criticised cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which are believed to be substantial. The EHRC was only formed 3 years ago as a cost saving exercise through the merger of the Disability Rights Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission  for Racial Equality. Recent reports from the commission have highlighted that several groups still suffer major inequalities in terms of treatment, pay and opportunities for advancement in employment as well as outside work.

The TUC is calling for union members to register as stewards on its day of action on Saturday March 26th. There are two types of role that are required - travel stewards and route stewards. Travel stewards are needed to make sure that groups reach their destination and get back home again, while route stewards are needed to keep the march on track and answer questions. Stewards will not be expected to deal with trouble makers

TUC and students hold marches against cuts in Manchester and London

As part of the ongoing campaign against the devastaing cuts to the education budget, marches are taking place today in London and Manchester. The coalition has effectively denied perhaps hundreds of thousands of young people the opportunity to go to university while cutting the jobs of thousands of tutors. Meanwhile millions of 16-18 year olds have come under increased pressure to leave school and get jobs (if they can) because of the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance. Young unemployed people will suffer from the abolition of the Young Person's Guarantee, which promised that within six months of becoming unemployed, young people would get jobs, training or work experience.

The Lib-Dem's remarkable u-turn on education, a central platform of their manifesto should be a reminder of how shallow their ethical convictions are when compared with their desire to get an active role in parliament. We view the speed with which they broke their promises to the electorate to be nothing less than disgraceful.

29th January 2011

TUC says that cuts will lead to a "lost generation"

With around a million of Britain's under 25 year olds unemployed, the TUC has said that the coalition's programme of cuts risk creating a lost generation that is denied the opportunity for decent educations or careers.

The government has already abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance to help 16-18 year olds remain in school and cut funding to the Young Persons' Guarantee, which promised that every young person unemployed for over six months would receive a job, training or work experience.

Assistant TUC General Secretary Kay Carberry says, 'We need investment in industry, in jobs and in skills. We need a strategy for growth. We need the rich to pay their taxes, not avoid paying their dues. We need a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions so that the big financial institutions help get us out of the mess they helped create."

 The TUC in partnership with the NUS and UCU have organised "A Future That Works"  rally in Manchester tomorrow (29th January) to promote an alternatiive strategy of investment in jobs. Attendees will include Unite General Secretary Len McClusky and representatives from PCS, the NUT, FBU, GMB and ATL.

28th January 2011

Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone to address activists on coalition cuts

On February the 5th 2011, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone will address activists on the damage to jobs, services and the standard of living of the most vulnerable peole in Britain by the coalitions package of cuts. The meeting will take place at 10.30 in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL and finish about 16.30.

Unite members and activists from the London and Eastern and South East regions are welcome to attend, but there are only 400 places available. Lunch will be provided and members may be able to claim travel expenses if they live outside the London area. For more details, follow the link below -


22nd January 2011

National Audit Office to investigate Vodafone tax

Following massive publicity due to UK Uncut's campaign, the National Audit Office is to investigate claims that Vodafone had up to £6 billion of its tax liabilities waived by HMRC. Vodafone is believed to be just one of many companies that have managed to avoid paying their full tax bills. Estimates as to the sums involved range from between £25 billion and £150 billion. We understand that the TUC believes the higher figure to be more accurate.

The HLC is at a loss to explain why large corporations are allowed to avoid their liabilities by the government at the same time as ordinary people are being asked to foot the massive bill for the recession. We look forward to seeing the results published.,s01=1.html#axzz1Bd8MRztm

20th January 2011

John McDonnell MP meets HLC to brief on government cuts. The end of the Welfare State?

Hayes and Harlington MP, John McDonnell visited the HLC today to brief Unite's trade unionists on the state of the government cuts. It would not be overstating matters to say that some of the newer reps were genuinely shocked at the scale of the coalitions cuts, the loss of services and the number of job losses that are likely to result. This week alone there have been massive attacks on public services. The following are just a few of the things that working people and unemployed shoud be worried about -

  • Localism Bill - Council housing to end in it's current form. Houses to be issued on 2 year lease to tennants who will then be means tested and evicted if found to be wealthy enough to afford public sector rents. Housing benefits to be cut below the average level of rents in Heathrow area.
  • Health Bill - £80 billion of funding to be moved from primary care trusts to GPs (in theory). However, as GPs not used to manging these sums of money, will probably be handled by a small number of private sector fund managers such as BUPA. These are likely to focus on cost reduction by job cuts, outsourcing and restructuring. £20 billion to be cut from health budget by 2014-2015. Hillingdon Hospital is feared to be under threat of closure with patients redirected to Northwick Park in Harrow or to Ealing.
  • Education - Education Maintenance Allowance that provides funds of £10 to £30 per week to low income families for 16 to 18 year olds to stay in education has been abolished. Funding for University tutors to be slashed leading to job losses and higher tuition fees. Estimated yearly cost of a student going to a local university (such as Brunel) to rise from £3,000 to £7,000.
  • Unemployment - Currently at 2.5 million. Public sector job losses of 500,000 to follow. Each public sector job loss can lead to up to 4 further job losses. Hillingdon council not releasing figures on job cuts, but one estimate is around 400 jobs to go. Under 25 year olds with very poor employment prospects - which they cannot improve except by building up massive debts by going to university.
  • Union rights - Government considering 2 systems of making it harder for workers to strike. First is insisting on 50% return on ballots for strike to be legal (most ballots have a turnout of below 50%) and secondly by making it illegal to strike in certain industrial sectors (such as transport). Proposals from business sector to make it harder to apply to an Employment Tribunal by making it a requirement that the employee has 2 years service and/or that employee has to pay a fee up front (which could be up to £500).

John McDonnell is one of the most active MPs in Westminster and has been an enormous help to the HLC since we were formed in 2007. His website can be found at

20th January 2011

Coalition breaks more election promises with cuts to Education and NHS

Following on from the Lib Dems breaking of their election promises to protect education and not to raise fees for students, the coalition has now voted to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance - a funding system that was introduced to help children from low income families to continue in education beyond the age of 16. This can only have the effect of reducing social mobility, protecting the class system and keeping the divisions between rich and poor. Despite Labour's attempts and protests by teachers and students outside parliament today, the vote to abolish the fund succeeded by 56 votes.

On the issue of health - the coalition has published its Health and Social Care Bill, which would create the biggest change to the way the NHS is funded in England since it was founded. Prior to the election the Conservatives made a number of promises to protect the NHS and its funding in which it clearly indicated that there would not be a major restructuring. In fact, the coalition has demanded that the NHS save £20 billion by 2014-2015. Some estimates of the job losses that are likely to result from this shake up are in the region of 50,000 in the Greater London area alone. Groups representing unions, GPs and nurses are among those who have criticised the Bill and surgeons have indicated that lives will be lost from the pressure to cancel operations to cut down on costs. 

Read Unite's response to the NHS proposals below -

19th January 2011

TUC General Secretary makes New Year statement

Brendan Barber, General Secretarty of the Trades Union Congress said in his statement - “2011 is going to be a horrible year. Unemployment will increase as thousands of public servants get made redundant. Just as many – if not more – private sector jobs will go, both as a direct result of the cuts and through the knock-on effects of reduced economic activity."Joint New Year Statement from Unite, Unison and GMB

Read his full statement below -

Over 1 million French protesters support general strike against rise in pension age

The BBC reports that today (7th September) over one million people took part in strikes and protests against plans by the French government to raise the state pension age to 62. At present French citizens recieve a pension at 60 if they have paid the equivalent of 40.5 years of National Insurance contributions. Unite and the HLC have good links with French transport unions such as CGT who are are active in the European Transport Workers Federation. We wish them success in getting the government to get those who caused the recession to pay for it rather than ordinary people who have worked all their lives for a modest wage.