"Robin Hood" tax campaign launched

British actor Bill Nighy is interviewed at the first Cinema Against AIDS Toronto gala on September 15, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LONDON (Reuters) - A global tax on banks’ financial transactions should be introduced to fight poverty, protect public services and tackle climate change, a group of nearly 50 organisations said in a letter to political leaders.

The campaign for a "Robin Hood Tax," launched on Wednesday, is backed by charities such as Oxfam, as well as aid agencies, unions, green groups, financiers and economists and features actor Bill Nighy in its promotional film. (Click here: )

“You could ignore the big problems facing the world ... or you can work to find an innovative, modern, regular way of accumulating a fund of money,” the campaign wrote in a letter to the leaders of the country’s political parties.

“We would ask you to seriously consider the Robin Hood Tax as that radical new option -- a small tax on bankers that would make a huge difference to the UK, to the poorest countries and to our planet. Let’s turn the crisis for the banks into an opportunity for Britain and the world.”

The tax, which the group say could raise hundreds of billions of pounds, would be levied on transactions between financial institutions rather than on banks’ transactions with high street customers.

Different rates would apply to different transactions but they would average around 0.05 percent, starting at five pence for every thousand pounds traded.

Last month Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- who floated the idea of a global transactions tax at a meeting of G20 financial leaders in Scotland in November -- said he saw growing backing for some form of international levy on banks to fund support for the industry.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Ron Askew