DSS Tenants descend on Starbucks to protest housing benefit cuts

Protestors descended upon an Islington Starbucks coffee shop on Saturday to highlight the plight of those affected by the Government's housing benefit cuts.

Private tenants and others held a 'housewarming party' at the store on Upper Street as part of a nationwide day of protests called by action group UK Uncut.

Over 50 people gathered outside the store with cardboard boxes, curtains and cushions after the police prevented them from entering. The activists tried to draw attention to the 57,000 children they claimed will be spending Christmas in temporary accommodation and the many more families with no idea how they’re going to cover their rent this winter.

Starbucks was chosen as a target as a result of its much-publicised tax avoidance schemes. Protestors signed a giant 'housewarming' card to present to Starbucks, demanding that the company paid tax.

Heather Kennedy, from the Hackney private tenants group Digs, said: "We need only compare the Government’s attitude to benefit claimants with their attitude to corporate tax avoiders to recognise the UK is becoming a nation of gratuitous inequality. And last week’s announcement of £3.7bn further cuts from working age benefits will make a desperate situation worse for millions of women and families.

"We’re really pleased that so many people joined us on Saturday to raise awareness about the deepening housing crisis and the unnecessary cuts to vital women’s services. When families and young people are being forced from their homes and communities because of benefit caps, spending cuts and a lack of affordable child care but corporate tax avoiders are let off scot-free, it’s time to take action to defend the kind of society we want to be living in."

Christine Haigh, from London activist group Housing for the 99%, says: "We were here today to show that there's another way: make companies pay their fair share of tax and invest in genuinely-affordable public housing and vital services for women and families."

"The government could easily bring in billions that could fund vital services by clamping down on tax dodging, but are instead using the deficit as an excuse for making cuts that are forcing women to choose between heating the house and feeding the family. No one should have to make these choices."