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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Call for immediate VAT action on fuel poverty

Two leading West Cumbrian politicians are calling on the Government to cut taxes to help combat fuel poverty and rising petrol prices.

Workington MP Tony Cunningham has tabled an early day motion for a temporary cut in the standard VAT rate – currently 20 per cent – to take 3p off the price of a litre of fuel.

He added that his motion, if taken up, would be possible without a law change and would make an immediate difference.

Standard rate VAT can be cut to a minimum of 15 per cent under European law.

Mr Cunningham said: “The chancellor’s on about not increasing petrol duty in August. August is a long time away. The immediate stimulus of a reduction is what’s necessary.

“Let’s do something we can do like cut petrol and diesel prices, which affects local hauliers, local people going to work and school, etc.

“I’m calling for what I think will be a reasonable cut which will make a difference to people and communities at a time when people are struggling.

“A cut in petrol costs will make a difference to people’s quality of life.”

And Eddie Martin, leader of Cumbria County Council, has written to Chancellor George Osborne urging him to abolish VAT on energy bills in the Budget.

Statistics show that more than 60,000 households in Cumbria were living in fuel poverty last year.

Coun Martin, who represents Dearham and Broughton, said: “We have a moral obligation to alleviate the challenges faced by the vulnerable among us and that includes those who are suffering a wretched life in fuel poverty.

“Poverty has a direct impact on health and well-being and on the quality of life; it has effects which outlast single generations and families, reaching into the future to affect the lives of those not yet born.

“Children growing up in poverty in Cumbria are more likely to suffer poor health, do less well in school and become the next generation of adults at risk of unemployment and long-term poverty.

“Many of those children are, by definition, living in fuel poverty households.

“So too are many older members of our Cumbrian communities who have been plunged into dire and even dangerous circumstances by the multiple increases in energy costs.”

Statistics show that last year there were 61,161 households in Cumbria living in fuel poverty – 11,345 of them in Allerdale.

The figures, Coun Martin said, meant 28 per cent of the Cumbrian population was in fuel poverty and showed a 130 per cent rise in the problem since 2005.

He added: “Given the significant energy price increases over the past months, it is reasonable to assume that increasingly more Cumbrian homes are now being subjected to a fuel poverty regime.

VAT on energy bills is charged at five per cent.

Under European law it cannot be cut further, but Coun Martin said the Government must lobby for a rule change.

He said: “We can put zero per cent VAT on children’s clothes and books. Energy is such a vital part of living I don’t see why we can’t do it with that.

“There must be a way for Brussels to change the rules and we must fight for them to do that. I’m not prepared to sit back and let people suffer.”

Mr Cunningham said anything that helped people struggling to pay bills was a good thing.

He said: “If people have to choose between eating and heating then there’s something wrong with our society.

“There will be parents going without to make sure their kids are fed.”

l Letters – Page 10

Have your say

Mr. Martin - It is precisely because I do remember history that I fear for the future under this Tory led Government. If the start of Thatcher's reign coincides with what you call the dawn of 'compassionate conservatism', then I have to wonder what on Earth would constitute 'non compassionate Conservatism'. The Thatcher years saw Britain's industrial base systematically dismantled, whole communities consigned to the dustbin, unprecedented unemployment levels and the unfettering of rampant greed within the City which ultimately led to the near collapse of the banking system which we saw a couple of year's ago. If that is compassionate conservatism, you can keep it.

Your party is currently embarking on a course which will make the bleak days of Thatcher's Britain look like a golden age. Benefit cuts to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society will lead to a devastating increase in poverty - for children and vulnerable adults alike. Privatisation of the NHS(yes, I know Mr. Martin - they're NOT privatising it! Although we ALL know that they are)will remove the single most important safety net for ordinary people - the security of health care, regardless of ability to pay for it. The party which you support is going to deal out such a dose of 'compassion', that I fear the country will never recover from.

Now then - as to 'do I believe that Torys live in mansions etc.' - well, I believe that those who benefit from Tory policies do - the super rich, the tax avoiding, those set to profit from privatisation of public services. Unfortunately there are also those self deluded types who don't fit into this bracket, but who manage to delude themselves that Tory is the only way. In my experience the latter group are often driven by a desire to feel somehow superior to their neighbours or are just mean spirited - not that I'd suggest for a second that this applies to you, Mr. Martin.

What am I doing to tackle poverty? Well, for a start I am opposing your Government at every opportunity I get - maybe you could try this instead of writing letters to George Osborne - the millionaire who cares not one jot for the plight of ordinary people.

Lastly - I am very sorry that my moniker upsets you. Just try and forget who is writing and concentrate on what I am writing - you may have a road to Damascus moment.

Posted by Evil McBad on 5 March 2012 at 21:38

Why don't you use your proper name, instead of that daft pseudonym? That's twice you have raised this and, clearly, you do not know your facts or your history. Compassionate Conservatism (which came in in 1979)is a political philosophy that stresses using traditionally conservative techniques and concepts in order to improve the general welfare of society.

I am a Conservative because I believe in low taxes, little bureaucracy and a severe reduction in central control. the Localism Bill will achieve the latter, I hope. Child poverty incresed under the last Labour government; so too did fuel poverty. In my opinion no party has ever done enough to address either problem. That does not make me less of a Conservative. Or do you still hold to that ridiculous view that all Tory's live in big mansions and drive a Porsche? My words are not empty. At least I am trying to do something about poverty in Cumbria. What exactly are you doing? Tell us all.

Posted by Eddie Martin on 3 March 2012 at 13:12

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