Clegg and VATLabour has today stepped up the pressure on the region’s Liberal Democrat MPs over the coalitions plans to increase VAT to 20%.

The highly regressive measure, which will hit the poorest the hardest, is contained in the Finance Bill currently being debate in the House of Commons.

Councillors at Redcar and Cleveland Council have today written to both of their local MPs, Labour’s Tom Blenkinsop and Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales to ask them to vote against the rise when it is debated in the Commons next week.

Redcar & Cleveland’s Corporate Resources Cabinet member Cllr Norman Pickthall said;

“We know VAT is a regressive tax and these measures are harsh and unfair.”

“We also know the impact on low and middle income families in the borough with these budget cuts will be to create real hardship”

“Following the question and request in council, I'm writing on behalf of councillors and residents to urge our MPs to oppose the VAT increase.”

“It's their first big test and for the sake of our residents I very much hope they won't fail them next week when the Finance Bill is discussed.”

Responding to the letter, Tom Blenkinsop MP said;

"I will certainly be voting to stop this tax rise. VAT hits the poorest hardest. It hits pensioners on fixed incomes and it will stifle the recovery for local firms here on Teesside. It is the last thing that small businesses and shops on our high streets in Middlesbrough and East Cleveland need.

The Coalition has no mandate for a tax rise which will hurt people in this region. The Liberal Democrats campaigned against this very measure just a few weeks ago. I hope North East Lib Dem MPs remember this fact when they go into the voting lobbies with the Tories to implement this unfair tax rise."


Notes to Editors:

The text of the letter from Redcar and Cleveland Council to Ian Swales MP and Tom Blenkinsop MP is below:

Dear Mr Blenkinsop & Mr Swales

Redcar & Cleveland Council meeting 8.7.10 - Increase in VAT for local

At yesterday's full council meeting, Cllr Sue Jeffrey, South Bank
councillor, outlined a number of concerns regarding recent changes in
benefit payments and future up-ratings, and in particular the impact of
the proposed increase in VAT on residents in the borough and elsewhere.

I share Cllr Jeffrey's view, and that of many other local residents, that
VAT is a regressive tax and am also aware that both Labour and Lib-dem
party leaderships went into the recent general election campaign opposing
any increase in VAT for that precise reason.

Members of the council present at yesterday's meeting and local residents
have concerns at the possible increase in VAT.    As cabinet member
responsible for Corporate Resources, and therefore financial issues
impacting on the borough's residents, I was asked to write on their
behalf to both our members of Parliament asking you to vote against the
proposed VAT increase and circulate that letter and your responses to
members, which I will do.

On behalf of councillors and the borough's residents, I would therefore
be grateful if you could confirm your intentions to vote against the VAT
increase when the issue comes before parliament.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Norman Pickthall
Cabinet member for Corporate Resources
Redcar & Cleveland Council