Thursday, 20 January 2011

VAT rises and tuition fees

Over the last few weeks I was ask a few questions by the Bracknell Standard as part of the papers 'What does Bracknell think' weekly panel.
First up VAT rise;
VAT has risen from 17,5 per cent to 20 per cent, is this a fair way for the government to try to reduce the national deficit or will it put people off buying consumer goods?
And my answer
Surely it depends on what you buy and how much you spend. Children's cloths and Food do not have VAT added to them yet they still seem expensive.
At least if someone who is wealthy and spends their wealth won't be able to avoid this tax on their larger purchases, like they can with their income. The rise ensures that we are all paying the national debt off not just some and therefore gives us all ownership of it.
Governments often choose VAT because its the tax that provides the quickest way of raising funds. If the deficit reduces sooner than expected, expect to see this cut sooner than expected (I hope).
And secondary tuition fees
The question;
The gist is that universities will now be able to charge up to £9,000 per year in tuition fees. The Government claims that there are a raft of measures to make sure that the new system is actually fairer - for a bit more detail, have a look at this
We want to know what people's feelings on the issue are. There are many facets to it - is the system fair? Have the Lib Dems betrayed voters? Will the new system benefit the country? Should potential students start looking into alternative futures?

And my reply;
I am a Lib Dem activist and I'm not looking forward to selling the tuition fee rise on the doorstep. As someone who believes in free education I do not agree with such a large rise. But I do understand why there has been an increase. The increases aside, I do feel the new system is fairer. you don't have to pay it back, What you pay back is linked to your earnings. This should not put people of from going to university once students examine the system in detail.
I do not feel the Lib Dems have sold out, I feel we are taking a huge political risk for the good of the country. A minority Conservative government would of lend to another election and 12 months of indecision.


  1. VAT is charged on food. Any foodstuff that has been processed to add value will attract VAT, this includes many items that are staples of our modern diets. Such as ready meals, chocolate and bottled drinks.

    Also, food is not the only essential in the modern world. A jobseeker for example has to have some smart clothes, etc to look presentable for any interviews. Families on low incomes will have to find more money for those big-ticket items that improve their quality of lives; a computer, for example, so they can access the cheapest utility deals or their child can access the amazing learning resources available online.

    For a party to denounce the evils of VAT increase during the general election campaign, aided by a massive bombshell poster. Then to vote through the VAT increase is lying and cheating on a truly impressive scale. And to base their election campaign entirely around the message of not breaking promises is just breath taking hypocrisy.

    Still you keeping rationalising it all and tribally defending the politics of betrayal.

  2. see my blog

    I dont pretent that this isn't a broken promise

  3. I was a Lib Dem activist until recently. I cannot defend support for measures such as the VAT rise (which, as a regressive tax, hits the poorest hardest) and the tuition fee rise. As a party we campaigned against these things before the election and, having chosen to form a coalition with a party that did not receive a mandate from the country for its own policies, we have jettisoned our own beliefs in a desperate bid to ensure we get some voting reform.

    You cannot justify either of these policies with a clear conscience. The VAT rise is just wrong and the Tuition Fees rise is a rushed and ill-conceived attempt at Higher Education reform.

    A properly thought-out plan for HE reform would bring in change over time, allowing HE Institutions to restructure courses, find alternative funding/income streams, develop new markets (e.g. overseas - a market now massively harmed by Theresa May's student visa restrictions) and in doing so widen access to students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

    What we are witnessing is unnecessary, ideologically driven change that will damage economic recovery, impoverish UK Higher Education provision and alienate/hurt those who can least afford it.