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Local Labour joins national protest against VAT rise

John Freeman

The local Labour Party is campaigning against the proposed rise in VAT, which rises to a 20% rate in January.

Labour Party members manned a stall outside Morecambe's Arndale Centre last Saturday, and many shoppers signed a petition against the coalition Government's plans to increase VAT, which the party says will hit lowest-paid earners and pensioners the hardest.

“It was a great opportunity to get out on the street and listen to what people thought about the new Government’s proposals and how it would have an impact on their lives," says Ian Pattison, Morecambe and Lunesdale Constituency Labour Party’s Youth Officer, who is leading the local campaign against the VAT rise.

"The problem with the VAT increase is that it will hit the less well off the hardest and also public sector workers who have had their pay freezed.

"We'll continue to fight against this rise and battle against proposals this Government attempt to make that could hurt the pockets of lower paid workers and pensioners.”

Labour, which has an online petition against the VAT rise, also says pensioners will be hardest hit by the VAT increase and have not been compensated for the extra costs with increases in tax allowances or benefits.

The party also argues no one voted for this unfair VAT increase. During the election, now Prime Minister David Cameron said the Conservatives had absolutely no plans to raise VAT - but neither the Conservatives, Labour nor the Lib Dems ruled out the possibility before the general election.

"Our plans don’t involve an increase in VAT," he told Sky News, when they even launched a campaign themselves against any rise. "We’re saying it should be wasteful government spending that’s cut rather than putting up taxes as the government suggests. And the only party that has had plans to put up VAT has been the Labour Party."

Some Conservatives and some Left wing campaign groups argue the rise is wrong, but for different reasons.

Parliament voted for the VAT rise in July. Ministers claimed the tax rise is "unavoidable" to reduce the deficit. Chancellor George Osbourne estimated the tax hike will raise £13bn towards reducing the £155bn deficit over the next two years.

A Labour amendment to the increase, would have exempted groups such as charities, local authorities and other groups from the VAT rise, was defeated during the Commons vote.

• Labour has an online petition against the VAT rise at

BBC News, 13th July 2010: Government sees off VAT opposition in Commons vote