Chancellor George Osborne was on Thursday (May 9) accused of ignoring the "elephant in the room" of tax dodgers by campaigners who say poor countries are suffering because western governments are not doing enough to clamp down on off-shore tax havens.
If Osborne looked out of his Treasury window he would have been faced with a pop-up boardroom featuring an inflatable elephant emblazoned with the words "UK Tax Havens" and a protester dressed as himself, studiously ignoring the elephant.
The campaigners are angry that this week's UK-hosted meeting of G7 finance ministers on Friday and Saturday does not have tax dodging on the agenda, despite the government having pledged to make it a priority.
They want Osborne's tough rhetoric on tax avoidance turned into a reality by cracking down on tax-dodging corporations, especially big businesses who work in poor countries.
"Rich countries are in the process of trying to cook up a new deal with some of the UK tax havens, which will benefit rich countries, but it won't do anything at all to help poor countries and what we are saying is that a new deal between rich countries and tax havens which leaves poor countries out in the cold is completely unacceptable," said spokeswoman for the "Enough for Everyone IF..." campaign, Melanie Ward.
The G7 Summit comes a month before the G8 leaders' summit in mid-June in Northern Ireland. Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to put the issue of tax dodging high on the agenda.
The UK has jurisdiction over 10 tax haven countries, such as the Cayman Islands, which make up a fifth of world's tax havens.
Last week Britain announced a new information sharing deal with a handful of tax havens, but this will only benefit the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Poor countries are not party to the agreement.
"Between now and the G8 Summit next month, George Osborne has got to pull UK tax havens into line and force them to play by the same rules as every other country," said Ward.
The damaging impact of tax havens on poor countries was highlighted by new figures released by the campaign which show the vast disparity of wealth between tax haven Cayman Islands and Nicaragua. Assets held in the Cayman Islands equate to 29.3 million dollars per capita, whereas in non-tax haven Nicaragua the figure is just 91 dollars.
Ward says people around the world are getting fed up with the unfair playing field when it comes to taxation and either corporations or wealthy individuals using off-shore accounts to avoid paying levies in the countries they do business in.
"They are fed up with a system where the rich and powerful play by a different set of rules to everybody else. And it is time for George Osborne to hear that message and to pull the UK tax havens into line.", she said.
The "Enough For Everyone IF..." movement is a coalition of 120 charities, working together for the first time since the "Make Poverty History" campaign eight years ago.
Presented by Adam Justice