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Chemist Boots to be told by doctors: tax avoidance hurts NHS

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Chemist Boots to be told by doctors: tax avoidance hurts NHS

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Finance

Chemist Boots to be told by doctors: tax avoidance hurts NHS Chemist Boots to be told by doctors: tax avoidance hurts NHS

Doctors in white coats holding placards and boards will today protest with other NHS staff and anti-poverty campaigners over £1.21 billion alleged tax avoidance by Boots’ parent company.

Representatives from the health service professionals group Medact and activists from the charity War on Want plan a demo outside the flagship store of Britain’s largest chemists on Oxford Street in London.

Protesters will claim the sum avoided by Alliance Boots for the past seven years could have paid the starting annual salary for almost 85,000 new NHS nurses, or more than two years’ worth of prescription charges in England.

Shoppers will receive 'prescriptions' for a restored NHS – a probe into Alliance Boots by HM Revenue & Customs.

The rally has been organised by Medact, War on Want, the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, and the US labour federation Change to Win.

It coincides with the launch of a petition from healthcare providers which urges the government to investigate Alliance Boots’ tax strategy and calls for greater transparency in public contracts.

It also comes as health services have reeled from reduced budgets, amid tax avoidance schemes that cost the Treasury between an estimated £32-£120bn a year, with a significant portion due to unpaid corporation tax.

The petition to HMRC reads: “Despite receiving over 40% of its revenue from the NHS – a tax-funded institution – in the form of prescription dispensing and wholesale services, Alliance Boots has avoided paying taxes, while the NHS suffers the biggest spending cuts in its existence.”

The demonstration will take place on the eve of Chancellor George Osborne’s speech at the Mansion House in the City of London and before the group UK Uncut focuses on Vodafone in further tax avoidance claims this Saturday.

David McCoy, who chairs the Medact board, said: “Health professionals are seeing the impact of NHS cuts daily on their patients and communities. Meanwhile Boots and many other companies are profiting from NHS contracts, paid for by taxpayers, while not paying their full and fair share of taxes. It is time we treat unjustifiable tax avoidance as a threat to people’s health and put an end to it.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Boots has abused the trust of the British public and needs to come clean on its tax affairs, and act more responsibly towards this country.

"If it doesn't, the government must make it, by closing the tax avoidance loopholes and not granting public service contracts to companies that avoid their tax liabilities. These practices must not be rewarded through the public purse."

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