THE Welsh Liberal Democrats have demanded an emergency cut to VAT to protect families from soaring bills and the worsening cost of living crisis.
The Party has proposed reducing the standard rate of VAT from 20% to 17.5% for one year, a move that would put an average of £600 back into the pockets of Welsh families. It comes amid warnings that the war in Ukraine will worsen the cost-of-living pressures facing households, with energy, food and fuel bills all expected to rise further. Inflation is forecast to reach 8% in April, its highest level in decades.
Under the Welsh Lib Dem plans, the economy would be boosted by shoring up consumer spending and supporting local high streets up and down thecountry. The proposal would also be expected to keep inflation lower than it would have been.
The emergency change to VAT could be rapidly introduced by the Chancellor for one year without the need for new primary legislation. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have said he should use the Spring Statement on March 23 to bring forward the change and scrap the Conservatives’ National Insurance tax hike, to offer much-needed respite to millions of families.
A VAT cut will help to keep inflation lower than it otherwise would be. When the last VAT cut came in in December 2008, inflation fell from 4.1% to 3.1%.
Cutting VAT would also help the retail industry, giving a much-needed boost to local high streets and increasing economic growth. A similar VAT cut in 2008 was found to boost retail sales by about 1%, increasing aggregate expenditure by around 0.4%.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
“Now is the time for action from the Conservatives and Rishi Sunak. Their cost-of-living crisis is hitting families hard and it is about to get worse. Will Sunak act or will he let families up and down the country suffer more financial pain?
“An emergency cut to VAT is desperately needed for the hundreds of thousands of Welsh people worried about making ends meet. High street businesses that fear going to the wall would receive critical support, as people who are feeling the pinch spend more at their local shops, cafes and restaurants.
“This is a once-in-a-generation crisis, and the government must step up to help struggling households and businesses on the brink. Instead of clobbering struggling families with a tax hike, the Chancellor should be putting money back into their pockets.”
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