Around 80,000 people have called on RWE npower to “stop tax dodging”, signing up to an online petition within 24 hours of its launch by campaign group 38 Degrees.
Around 14,000 of the signatories indicated they were customers of the German-owned energy provider and many warned they planned to switch to another supplier unless the company changed its accounting policies.
The petition, which refers to npower “acting like Starbucks”, was launched in the aftermath of admissions by the group that it had paid no corporation tax in three years.
The revelations about npower, one of the UK’s big six suppliers, were made public on Tuesday at an energy and climate change select committee hearing, after being revealed earlier in a letter to the shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint.
npower said it had written off the tax against the multibillion-pound investments it had made in building new power infrastructure but David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, said the campaign against it was concentrating on an alleged £180m of “interest payments” paid to its parent company. This he believed was a way of avoiding tax similar to the “royalty payments” made by Starbucks, which caused a political row and sparked public demonstrations against the coffee shop chain last year.