HSBC branches across the country will be at the centre of a series of planned protests from tomorrow (Saturday July 20th).

Protesters plan to turn the branches into makeshift food banks as part of a campaign to highlight the impact of government cuts.

The bank has been targeted due to its links to tax havens and its role in facilitating tax avoidance.

Actions are already planned for 12 towns and cities across the UK including London, Glasgow, Manchester, Oxford and Shrewsbury.

Activists have billed the day as a day of ‘creative civil disobedience’ and their aim will be to shut down bank branches distributing food to the public.

They will also be collecting food for distribution to local food banks.

The protests have been organised by Uncut. Naomi Rogers, a spokesperson for UK Uncut said: “Half a million people now rely on food banks and it’s the government’s decision to slash benefits that’s forcing that number up. The benefit cap, bedroom tax, the scrapping of crisis loans and attacks on disability living allowance and job seekers allowance are driving people into shocking levels of poverty.”

Research from Oxfam and Church Action Poverty shows that 500,000 people now rely on food banks on a regular basis. Separate findings from Trussell Trust foodbanks showed that the number of people relying on food banks has risen by 170 per cent in the last year alone. Nearly half of those relying on food banks did so because of cuts or delays in benefit payments, while one in five turned to food banks due to low pay.

Recent research from actionaid has shown that HSBC uses tax havens more than any other UK bank, with 496 subsidiaries in tax havens. Just two other companies on the FTSE 100 have more links to tax havens. The bank has also been rocked by major tax avoidance scandals, with a Swiss subsidiary alleged to have helped UK taxpayers evade £200 million as well as running thousands of offshore accounts in the tax haven of Jersey, according to reports which appeared in the Observer, last year.

Sam McCarthy, an activist from Manchester said “We’re targeting HSBC because a cabinet of millionaires are making a political choice to cut meagre benefits rather than collect billions of pounds avoided through tax havens. HSBC uses tax havens more than any other UK bank, allowing it and its rich clients to avoid paying their fair share of tax – leaving the rest of us picking up the bill.”

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