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Survey finds mood for mass boycott

08 March 2013

CHRISTIAN AID

FIRMS that are suspected of tax-avoidance face a boycott by millions of people, new research suggests.

A survey commissioned by Christian Aid found that more than one third of the respondents were already avoiding at least one company because they believed that it did not pay its fair share of UK tax. And almost half (45 per cent) of those questioned said that they were either considering joining the protest, or were extending an existing ban to other businesses.

Christian Aid's Senior Economic Justice Adviser, Joseph Stead, said: "One in three people are actually prepared to change their buying habits and boycott some of the firms seen as not paying their fair share in the UK. This surely must be a wake-up call to all businesses."

Of the 2270 adults questioned online by ComRes last month, two out of three believed that tax- avoidance was morally wrong. Four out of five said that tax-avoidance by multinationals made them angry.

Almost three-quarters of those questioned believed that the Government should ensure that all UK- based companies paid the proper amount of tax, wherever they operated; and eight out of ten wanted multinationals' accounts to be more transparent and publicly available.

"In the run-up to the Budget - which we hope the Chancellor will use to require companies to reveal more information about their tax avoidance in developing countries - this is heartening news," Mr Stead said. "The public clearly understands that the UK has a responsibility to ensure UK plc plays by the rules, both home and away, and we hope the Chancellor will show he does, too."

Three-quarters of the respondents said that the Prime Minister was right to make tax-avoidance a priority at the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland in June, but only 43 per cent believed that the Government was showing a genuine desire to deal with the problem.

Christian Aid, which is part of the coalition Enough Food For Everyone IF, which wants governments to stop multinationals dodging tax in poor countries, estimates that it costs their governments $160 billion every year - far more than they receive in aid.

"Tax is a powerful weapon against poverty," Mr Stead said, "and three-quarters of Britons agree that if developing countries could collect more tax, then they would, in time, be less dependent on international aid, and therefore better able to provide for their own people."

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