Before I begin I have a small announcement to make.

If you have got trouble paying your tax bill, don’t worry … I’ve had a word with George and said to just give him a call and he will do a deal with you. You might even get three per cent!

So, despite the public outrage, Cameron and Osborne STILL think that a three per cent tax deal from Google after a six year investigation is a “major success!”

What do we think about that?!

And despite our government lobbying the EU to PROTECT tax havens, ministers still insist that this country is leading the way in clamping down on corporation tax avoidance!!

What do we think about that?!

And despite HMRC getting a pasting last November by the public accounts committee for its record on tax avoidance, the Conservative government STILL insists that it’s doing a great job on getting companies to pay up!

Over the weekend news broke that six large companies, including AstraZeneca and Shell, have COMPLETELY avoided paying tax in the UK! 

Using tax expert, Richard Murphy’s figures we have estimated that Devon could lose around £380m every year to corporation tax avoidance. 

£380m is twice the adult social care budget and 22 times the children’s care budget.  Effectively, it is equivalent to around an extra £500 for every person living in the Devon County Council area.

That’s money that could be spent on our schools, our hospitals, children’s services and the elderly.  All these services are horribly underfunded and horribly under pressure. 

Over the past five years £174m has been shaved off Devon County Council’s budgets. We have seen the closure of care homes, youth centres, children’s homes, bus cuts, highways related cuts.

But things are about to get worse. On 10 February (we think) MPs will vote on yet more massive council funding cuts. Devon County Council is set to lose around £28m.  This will mean the axing of school crossing patrols, the arts and a raft of other cuts. The social care budget is so under pressure that its scrutiny chairman said last week that the risks of the budget cuts are “massive.”

So this demonstration is aimed at both drawing Mr Swire’s attention to the modern day scourge that is tax avoidance AND also to the forthcoming vote in the House of Commons and how important it is for him speak and vote against it.

And Devon County Council has already urged Devon MPs to vote against the funding cuts.

Mr Swire is a Foreign Office minister for the Commonwealth and responsible for economic and commercial diplomacy, and so in a sound position for press for action on this issue.

I wrote to him about this a few weeks ago but the only reply I received stated that the email was being forwarded to the treasury minister, David Gauke.

This is all very well, but I think we want to know what MR SWIRE himself is doing about corporate tax avoidance – and where he stands on next week’s council funding cuts vote!

Otherwise some of us might start to wonder whether a more appropriate title for him should be Minister for Tax Havens!!

Organised this demonstration BEFORE the Google scandal kicked off, but absolutely delighted that it has prompted this issue to dominate the news agenda.  The white light of public scrutiny is the ONLY way that we will ever see the rules change on this.

One last thing this is a protest demonstration and we need to demand action verbally as well as visually.

How about:

Hugo Swire: No ifs, no buts, vote AGAINST
the council cuts!