Who is to blame? VAT is the question

Labour’s spokesperson in High Peak Caitlin Bisknell has slammed the government for hiking up VAT at what she calls “the worst possible time”.

But Tory MP Andrew Bingham hit back by saying that former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair had called for the increase in his recent book.

Cllr Bisknell, who was Labour candidate in High Peak at the general election, said: “This is bad news for families, right on the back of Christmas. This is the worst possible time for the Tory Government to increase VAT from 17.5% to 20%.

“Just as we are seeking to claw our way back to recovery, people in High Peak will be hit hard by this VAT attack,” she said.

“This comes at a time when people are stretched as the impact of the world-wide recession continues to be felt. Despite the worrying signs that the Government’s plans are hitting jobs and growth, they are insisting on going ahead with this unfair tax increase on the British public.”

But High Peak’s Conservative MP Andrew Bingham hit back by saying the Coalition was having to take tough decisions to sort out the mess left by Labour’s years in power.

“Once again Caitlin Bisknell is sitting on the sidelines trotting out the party line in criticising actions taken by the Coalition Government, whilst not offering any ideas of her own on how we can get the country out of the legacy of debt and economic carnage left to it by her own Labour Government,” he said.

“The coalition Government is faced with having to make very tough and difficult decisions to deal with this debt and the rise in VAT is a powerful tool to help do this.

“Indeed, the former Chancellor Alistair Darling himself said he wanted to increase VAT.

“Tony Blair in his book said he believed that VAT should be raised. Now in opposition, Labour are disavowing this position purely for political purposes. Perhaps Caitlin’s criticisms would be more meaningful if she began by apologising for the mess left by her Government that have made this and other tough decisions necessary.

“On the principle of increasing VAT, the Institute for Fiscal Studies have said that VAT is a progressive tax. It is a tax on spending, thereby impacting more on higher spenders, and the goods that people on the lowest incomes consume the most; food, energy bills and children’s clothing are zero or reduced rated for VAT.”