As Dave Hartnett announces his retirement as head tax chief and HMRC feels renewed pressure inside parliament over tax dodging, UK Uncut plans to pile the pressure on the high street. The anti-cuts direct action group has vowed that there will be occupations of either Vodafone or TopShop on high streets across the UK on December 17th, the Saturday before Christmas – the busiest shopping day of the year.

Supporters of UK Uncut have been voting on an online poll for over a week to choose the most popular target. The poll today has been reduced to a two horse race between TopShop and Vodafone and the final results of the target are expected to be announced next week.

UK Uncut believes that Vodafone is proving a popular target owing to the fresh controversy of the influential Public Affairs Committee in parliament examining whether the tax deal between HMRC and Vodafone of around £7 billion was illegal. TopShop is currently in the lead as the top target, potentially because of the heavy handedness of the police and private security at past actions and the blatant tax dodge of Sir Philip Green, the owner of the Arcadia group, who siphoned off millions of pounds to his wife- based in the Monaco tax haven.

Organisers of the action in London are planning to theme the action around the slashing of benefits, pensions and the Winter Fuel Allowance, combined with rising heating bills, which are leading to more people, particularly the elderly, dying from the cold. They plan to keep their exact plan under wraps and will enter stores as shoppers to remain undetected by security staff.

UK Uncut responded to the news of Dave Hartnett’s retirement:

“Dave Hartnett has allowed big business and rich individuals to get away with daylight robbery. We hope that his departure brings a new way of working for HMRC, one which means that big business are not let off millions or billions of pounds owed to the public purse. Instead HMRC must clamp down on big business and rich individuals which will bring in billions to the UK and will save the British public from unnecessary cuts to their public services and the welfare state.”

Sarah Armitage, supporter of UK Uncut in London, who voted for TopShop as the UK Uncut target said:

“The cuts are making people cold. People whose benefits and pensions are being cut, people who have lost their jobs because of the cuts and older people whose Winter Fuel Allowance has been cut are freezing today. Meanwhile, Sir Philip Green and his wife can afford to jet off to sunny Monaco and take their profits with them, dodging millions in tax. Meanwhile the government does nothing but cuts our benefits and the services that we need. The government should be getting those millions back rather than cutting my gran’s Winter Fuel Allowance.”

Joe Potter, supporter of UK Uncut, who voted for Vodafone said:

“Last year Vodafone said that their tax dodge of billions was an urban myth and UK Uncut was wrong. Now we’re seeing a parliamentary committee looking into whether it was an illegal tax dodge, not into whether it happened at all. We were right all along. Possibly £8 billion was avoided which would mean that no cuts would need to be made to the benefits of the poorest people in our society. This shows us once and for all that the cuts aren’t necessary and that austerity is a political choice. We must take action now to stop the cuts and prevent the devastating impact they will have on ordinary people’s lives.”