A London-based campaign group which is pressuring world Governments to help the poor has hit out at the hidden scandal of injustice at the London Olympics. Amanda Jackson, Head of Campaigns at Micah Challenge, criticised the culture that will make British taxpayers pay up to £12 billion for the Olympics while large corporations cash in.
Jackson said the Government is allowing the exploitation of ordinary taxpayers by failing to make big firms and athletes pay taxes gained at the Olympics. She has joined the Tax Justice Network and Ethical Consumer groups to urge people to write to the Prime Minister, their Ministers of Parliament and Media outlets to protest against the injustice.
Jackson said: "The UK government is allowing and even encouraging tax evasion on a massive level. That is a much bigger scandal than any you will read about drugs, security or transport delays. None of this gets reported in major media. This injustice couldn't be highlighted at a worse time. The UK financial crisis is plunging more people into poverty with the demand for free school meals and Foodbank food parcels hitting record levels. Yet the Olympic Games which is due to cost UK taxpayers between £9.3billion and £12billion will provide huge benefits to athletes and corporates – all untaxed!"
"Corporates with monopoly rights at the Olympics venues won’t pay any tax on their profits. Indeed, top athletes won’t pay tax on winnings either. The bonuses of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will not be taxed. The boss of LOCOG has said he will give his bonus to charity but that is not really the point – why was he offered a bonus by the government?" she continued. "Around the world, sport is seen as a passport out of poverty for talented youngsters from deprived backgrounds but corporate aspects of sport are murky. We need to have high standards across the board so that ordinary people do not lose out."
"Micah Challenge wants to highlight this because we see little people being overlooked and exploited around the world – poor farmers, factory workers and the frail. We do not want to see injustice in a great democracy like Britain."
Jackson added: "I am not a Games hater – I will be watching Usain and Sally and all the unknowns, delighting in sporting achievement. But I won’t believe the hype and I will protest the greed."
The Tax Justice Network and Ethical Consumer along with other groups have just managed to gather 100,000 signatures on the issue of Olympics tax avoidance in a few days. Their campaign forced McDonalds to waive its tax exemption.
Micah Challenge (MC), an initiative of the World Evangelical alliance, is a global movement to encourage deeper Christian commitment to the poor and hold governments to account for their pledge to halve extreme poverty by 2015. MC aims to be a global voice on poverty for Christians, encouraging them to learn about the issues, find ways to reach out and help the poor, and to fight for justice. For more information, go to: www.micahchallenge.org.