53,000 people taking action, hundreds of us writing to our MPs, thousands of passionate messages and one Father Christmas later, I’m really pleased to be able to tell you that Barclays have committed to stop promoting tax dodging through tax havens to companies investing in Africa!
Here's how you made it happen.
From November 2013, thousands of us sent emails and postcards to Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins, demanding that the bank stop promoting the use of tax havens to clients operating in Africa. Thousands of us also emailed our MPs asking them to raise the issue with the bank.
In December last year, campaigners across the country handed in Christmas cards to Barclays branches asking if Barclays would be a good bank in Africa at Christmas. Campaigners handed out mince pies and sung anti-tax dodging Christmas carols outside the branches. Santa himeself even leant his support at one of the London hand-ins.
In Lusaka, Zambia, campaigners march to the Barclays headquarters to demand that the bank stop encouraging its corporate clients to avoid paying taxes by using tax havens.
By making our voices heard on Barclays Facebook page, we made it clear that we weren't going away until Barclays changed its ways.
This ad van, funded by ActionAid campaigner donations, drove around the Barclays AGM all day, making sure that Barclays shareholders and staff couldn't miss our message as they were discussing the bank's future.
Our fantastic campaign volunteer Will Davis went into the Barclays AGM and asked Barclays board and CEO Antony Jenkins to commit to stopping their promotion of tax havens in Africa. Antony Jenkins made a personal promise to Will to find common ground with ActionAid on this issue.
After Antony Jenkin's commitment at the AGM, we sent a clear reminder that we need action, not just words, as we handed in over 53,000 signatures, and personal messages to Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf. The petition signatures were from ActionAid and SumOfUs supporters.
We launched our campaign back in November 2013, after we found out the bank had been promoting the use of tax havens to companies investing in Africa.
How you made Barclays listen
Thousands of campaigners and customers wrote to the bank’s CEO Antony Jenkins demanding that they stop being part of the system that drains billions from some of the world’s poorest countries.
Just ahead of Christmas campaigners took to the streets, handing in signed Christmas cards to local branches, asking them to be a good bank this year, and in Zambia hundreds of campaigners protested outside the bank’s Lusaka headquarters.
But it wasn’t until the bank’s shareholder AGM in April that we really got their attention – with a giant billboard paid for by campaigners, and a media stunt that was splashed across the UK press. ActionAid campaigner Will Davis also asked a question directly to Antony Jenkins, and won a promise that he would look into what we were calling for.
We’ve been a bit quiet over the last few months but behind the scenes we’ve been keeping up the pressure on Barclays, and finally it’s borne fruit.
Barclay’s commitment means that they have made changes to their website and aren’t promoting the low tax rates that are one of the key features of tax havens.
Whilst this isn’t a total victory, it’s pretty amazing that pressure from ordinary people can influence the position of one of the world’s biggest banks.
We’ll be keeping up the pressure on politicians and companies to make sure we see an end to the tax dodging that is so damaging for developing countries.