Extinction Rebellion protest outside Newcastle's HMRC site in protest over Barclays

Protestors demand HMRC 'Break Up With Barclays' amid ongoing row with the bank Credit: NCJ Media

Protestors from Extinction Rebellion has blocked the entrance of an HMRC building in Newcastle.

The demonstration in Longbenton comes one month after protestors from the group occupied the roof of the same HMRC building to demand it stops banking with Barclays.

HMRC currently uses Barclays’ payment solutions to process National Insurance and Self-Assessment tax payments, Child Benefit repayments and a range of other HMRC transactions.

The climate action group has been embroiled in a row with Barclays Bank after launching the ‘Better without Barclays’ campaign, aimed at cutting the finance giant’s investments in fossil fuels. Similar protests have taken place at Barclays sites across the UK.

Extinction Rebellion says that this is an unacceptable relationship as the bank invests its profits into financing the fossil fuel industry.

Demonstrators say that it leaves taxpayers "no choice but to be complicit in environmental exploitation without their consent or knowledge".

A number of activists sat in the road with colorful flags and placards around their necks Credit: NCJ MEDIA

A number of activists sat in the road leading up to the entrance of the HMRC building with colourful flags and placards around their necks.

Northumbria Police confirmed they received a report of a small group of protestors outside HMRC, shortly before 7:40am. The group dispersed peacefully shortly before 9:30am.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “There was a small demonstration outside the main gates of our Benton Park View site in Newcastle this morning which ended at around 9.30am.

"Police have been in attendance and our services are unaffected by today’s activity.”

The group dispersed after two hours Credit: NCJ MEDIA

Extinction Rebellion activist Helen, from Gateshead, who was taking part in the demonstration said: “It is horrific to think of the devastation that is happening across the whole world to people, animals and the land itself due to fossil fuel extraction.

"This is causing immense suffering right now but is also having a detrimental effect on the future of the planet and of human civilisation.

"It sickens me to think that banks like Barclays are using customers’ money to invest in fossil fuels.

"HMRC banks with Barclays so taxpayers’ money is being used to destroy our home, the only home we have.

"People need to know the truth about how their money is being used. That’s why I’m taking part in this action.”

Extinction Rebellion activist Andy from Gateshead was also taking part in the action as he called for more investment into renewable energy. He said: “The current energy and cost of living crisis we face in the UK is directly linked to investments made by companies like Barclays.

"Rather than investing more heavily in renewables and home insulation, it focused on fossil fuel investments.

"These new fossil fuel developments won't make any difference to current prices because they won't come onstream for decades.

"The quickest and cheapest way to reduce energy bills now is insulating our homes and investing in renewables”.

What does Barclays say?

In a statement, Barclays said it is investing £175m into innovative, green start-ups and aims to become a net-zero bank by 2050.

A Barclays spokesman said: "We are aligning our entire financing portfolio to support the goals of the Paris Agreement - significantly scaling up green financing, directly investing in new green technologies and helping clients in key sectors change their business models to reduce their climate change impact.

"By 2025, we will reduce the emissions intensity of our power portfolio by 30%, and reduce absolute emissions of our energy portfolio by 15%.

"Increasing at pace, our capital markets business has already facilitated £46 billion of green finance.

"We are one of the only banks globally investing our own capital – £175m – into innovative, green start-ups.

"By deploying finance in this way, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy and will become a net-zero bank by 2050."