Firms 'boycotted over tax stance'

HMRCA third of Britons are boycotting companies that they consider are avoiding their tax obligations in the UK, a survey has suggested.

The poll for international development charity Christian Aid found 34% of consumers are currently boycotting the products or services of a company "because it does not pay its fair share of tax in the UK". Another 45% said they were considering a boycott.
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The survey also revealed that 66% of consumers believe tax avoidance is "morally wrong", up 10 percentage points since August last year.

Almost three-quarters of those questioned (72%) said the Government had a responsibility to ensure that all UK-based companies paid the appropriate amount of tax in every country in which they operate while 84% want to see multinationals' accounts more transparent and publicly available.

Christian Aid spokesman Joseph Stead said: "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.

"The public clearly understands 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. The overwhelming majority of the British public say that tax avoidance by multinational companies makes them feel angry.

"But what this survey also shows is that 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."

The poll - in which ComRes spoke to 2,270 people between February 15 and 17 - revealed 85% of those questioned believe it is currently too easy for multinational companies to avoid tax, but the number of those who believe the Government is showing "a genuine desire" to combat tax avoidance has risen from 38% in August to 43%.

Mr Stead said: "People understand the importance of developing countries being able to collect tax that is owed to them by multinational corporations.

"Tax is a powerful weapon against poverty 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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Firms 'boycotted over tax stance'

More than 46,000 of 106,000 the complaints received by the FOS in the second half of last year related to payment protection insurance (PPI). And the organisation is expecting to receive a record 165,000 PPI complaints in 2012/2013.

The huge numbers are due to the PPI mis-selling scandal that should now be a thing of the past, but there is no doubt that the insurance, which can add thousands to the cost of a loan, is highly unpopular!

(Pictured: Martin Lewis after the PPI payout ruling)

Complaints about mortgages jumped by 38% in the last six months of last year, the FOS figures show, compared to an increase of just 5% in investment-related complaints.

Common gripes about mortgages include the exit penalties imposed should you want to sell up or change you mortgage before a fixed or discounted deal comes to an end, and the high arrangement fees charged by many lenders.

While there is nothing in the data released by the FOS about the number of complaints relating to savings accounts, hard-pressed savers have been struggling with low interest rates for several years now.

You can get up to 3.10% with Santander's easy-access eSaver account, but many older accounts are paying 1.00% or less and even this market-leading offer includes a 12-month bonus of 2.60% - meaning that the rate will plummet to just 0.50% after the first year.

Banks are imposing the highest authorised overdraft interest rates since records began, with today's borrowers paying an average of 19.47%, according to the Bank of England.

A typical Briton with an overdraft of £1,000 is therefore forking out around £200 in interest charges alone. Coupled with meagre returns on savings, it's enough to make your blood boil!

While authorised overdrafts may seem expensive, going into the red without permission will cost you even more due to huge penalty fees.

Barclays, for example, charges £8 (up to a maximum of £40 a day) each time that there is not enough money in your account to cover a payment.

If you need to send money abroad, the likelihood is that your bank will impose transfer charges - and offer you a poor rate of exchange. Someone transferring a five-figure sum could easily lose out by £500 or more as a result.

The good news, however, is that you can often get a better deal by using a currency specialist such as Moneycorp.

Automated telephone banking systems, not to mention call centres in far-flung parts of the world, are one of our top gripes - especially as we often encounter them when we are already calling to report a problem.

In the words of one disgruntled customer: "What is it about telephone banking that turns me into Victor Meldrew? Well, maybe it's the fourteen security questions, maybe it's the range of products that they try to push or maybe it's because I'm forced to listen to jazz funk at full volume while my phone bill soars.

"Actually though, I think it's because the people I eventually speak to rarely seem able to solve the issue I'm calling about."

The days of a personal relationship with your bank manager are long gone - for the huge majority of us at least.

When ethical Triodos Bank investigated recently why around 9 million Britons would not recommend their banks to a friend or relative, it found that almost a third felt they were not treated as individuals. Another 40%, meanwhile, were simply disappointed with the customer service they received.

When you're in a rush, the last thing you want to do is wait in a long queue at your local branch.

Researchers at consumer champion Which? recently found that most people get seen within 12 minutes, but you could have a much longer wait if you go in at a busy time. Frustrating stuff!

The Triodos Bank research also indicated that the bonus culture that ensured the bank's high-flying employees received large salaries, even when it was making a loss at the taxpayer's expense, was hugely unpopular with consumers.

About a quarter of those who would not recommend their current banks said this was the main reason why. And with RBS executives sharing a £785 million bonus pool despite the bank, which is 82% publicly owned, making a loss of £2 billion last year, it's not hard to see why.

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