Archive for Economy

Government ‘Wasting A Generation’ as Economy Stays In Recession For ‘Record Time’

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said today (July 25th 2012) that the Coalition Government ‘were wasting an entire generation on Teesside’ as official figures showed the recession continuing.

The Office of National Statistic today said that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a broad measure for the total economy – had shrunk by 0.7% between April and June in its third straight quarter of contraction.

Tom said:
“This is a new British record in Olympic week – but a record we can’t be proud of.  Today’s figures mark the longest double-dip recession since quarterly records began in 1955 and is, I understand, the worst since the second world war.

At a time when all our factories have spare capacity and with a massive reserve army of workers – either unemployed or under-employed – able to turn that spare capacity into production for the country’s need, the blind cost cutting programme of the coalition is just simply wasting an entire generation.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne should heed the views today of the British Chambers of Commerce who have now publicly said that – and I quote – ‘a lack of imagination, willpower and leadership in government is hampering Britain’s recovery from a double-dip recession.

John Longworth, the BCC Chairman said the political response to Britain’s economic malaise had been lackluster and referring to other nations’ airport and infrastructure expansion plans, he said: “Britain dithers while others do”.

He is speaking for those in the hot seat in industry.  The coalition would dismiss such views at their own peril.  Such programmes would be a vital boost for the UK and especially relevant to Teesside, a core industrial region of this country.”

Tom calls for further Budget U-turns

Tom Blenkinsop MP today (29th May 2012) called for ‘double dip’ Chancellor, George Osborne, to carry out further U-turns with his controversial Budget following the news that the Government is to reverse plans to impose VAT on pasties and static caravans.

The amendments will still see pasties that are stored in cabinets to remain hot having VAT imposed, and the intended 20% VAT charge on static caravans is being reduced to 5%.

Tom said:
“Two months on from the shambles of a Budget, confirmation that the UK is now back in recession, disastrous local election results, George Osborne has now been forced into two embarrassing U-turns.

“The ‘pasty tax’ was ill-thought out and was a clear example of how out of touch the Tories are with a 20% price hike on a pasty whilst caviar has no VAT applied. The pasty tax amendment comes after the industry told the chancellor what to do. The Chancellor could have avoided the embarrassment by asking the industry first.

“Yet the caravan tax cut has come too late for hundreds of workers at caravan manufacturers in East Yorkshire who are to be laid off as a result of an incompetent government.

“These are only two policies in a long list that many of my constituents want to see reversed. We still need a U-turn for 150 workers at Glanbia Nutritionals Middlesbrough whose jobs are at stake due to a 20% tax hike on nutritional drinks; they need to reconsider the car crash that is regional pay, and of course they need to develop a real plan for jobs and growth.”

Tom criticises ‘inefficient’ Regional Growth Fund

Tom Blenkinsop MP today (11th May 2012) called for the Public Accounts Committee to look into the handling of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) following the announcement from the National Audit Office (NAO) that “value for money was not optimised” and the scheme “offered relatively few jobs for the public money invested.”

The regional growth fund could have created thousands more jobs if the government had applied tighter controls the report from the NAO has found.

Tom said:
“The complete mishandling of the Government’s flagship policy to rebalance the economy is endemic of their inability to provide a real growth strategy. When areas like Teesside are crying out for jobs and it turns out that thousands could have been created if the Government weren’t so inefficient there is something seriously wrong.

“The average cost of a job created by RGF is £33,000 – yet for the Regional Development Agencies, like the successful ONE North East, the average was £28,000. So why did the Government cut a well-established system only to replace it with this shambles? Therefore, I hope the Public Accounts Committee look into the Government’s handling of this scheme before it is too late.”

Queens Speech a “wet washout” as more gloom hits Teesside High Streets

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (9th May) branded the new Government programme announced in the Queens Speech as a “wet washout in a wet spring with no commitment whatsoever to try and bring about UK growth and boost jobs”.

Tom said:

“This Queens Speech comes on a day when more local High Street jobs across Teesside are under threat with the collapse of Clinton Cards, who have six shops in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Guisborough in my constituency. Yet all we see are “arrogant posh boy” Ministers obsessed with issues far removed from normal people’s daily lives. Many of my constituents will now be asking themselves ‘why is the government talking about Lords Reform when my job is on the line?’ It is a question that this government is failing to answer.

“In these tough times the government should be setting out an agenda for change which would improve living standards for families, ensure security for pensioners and get our young people back to work.

“Across Europe we see people voting against austere policies and calling for a new direction. The one exception seems to be Britain, where David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne seem wedded to the view that only long drawn out economic misery will somehow improve things. It is clear that this approach has failed and will continue to fail. More than ever, we need a Plan B.”

Tom highlights nutrition drinks VAT concerns

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (2nd May 2012) met with representatives of Glanbia Nutritionals at their Middlesbrough based factory to discuss changes announced in March’s Budget to VAT on sports nutrition drinks.

Currently, sports nutrition drinks are exempt from VAT but proposals set out in the Budget are likely to damage small, specialist manufacturers, and increase cost to the general public.

Tom said:
“It’s concerning that the Government are attempting to rush through this change without the appropriate consultation period – six weeks as opposed to twelve – and I don’t think they are aware of the potential consequences.

“As you would expect, Glanbia Nutritionals are concerned about the potential cost of running this part of their business in Middlesbrough once the VAT change goes ahead. I’m concerned that, as Middlesbrough is the only manufacturing site in Europe approved by ‘Informed Sport’, a quality assurance programme testing for banned substances; this may lead to customers to turn to less reputable sources that can potentially be harmful.

“Also, as many have already pointed out, it is puzzling that this change is coming in a year when sport is high on the national agenda with the Olympics in London and Euro 2012, but also when we have a growing obesity crisis and falling standards of public health.”

‘Local industry let down by Government as UK heads into double-dip recession’ – Tom Blenkinsop MP

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (25th April 2012) said that industry on Teesside ‘have been let down badly’ by the government as figures showed a 0.2% drop in output – meaning that the UK is back in recession.

Tom said:

“Only a few short days ago Teesside was celebrating as SSI cast the first hot metal from the Redcar Blast Furnace and the first steel slabs cast at Lackenby. Tata, too, said that new orders for steel pipe were also good news for Teesside. But the efforts and hard work of these companies – hard work and grind replicated by other firms in this area – is being undermined by a government whose indolence in their stewardship of the economy is undermining all of their efforts.  It is proof positive that the views of a Commons Committee that the government has ‘no strategy for leadership and are drifting’ are spot-on. George Osborne should now really consider his position in the light of these dreadful figures.”

Tom Blenkinsop Calls on Teesside businesses to take part in programme to find the UK’s top manufacturer

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, is calling on local businesses to get in involved in ‘Manufacturing Excellence 2012’, a UK-wide awards programme which identifies and celebrates outstanding UK manufacturing.

Manufacturing Excellence from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers offers £20,000 worth of free consultancy to all manufacturing businesses that enter.

Tom said:
“Manufacturing industry has been our lifeblood on Teesside but lately it has been hit hard by the global recession and now by weak policy from the Coalition Government. Cancelling big public sector projects like the Building Schools for the Future programme hasn’t helped.

“The manufacturing sector are begging the Government to develop a stronger strategy for growth in the UK and to move away from the over reliance on the financial and services sector.

“It is therefore good to see the Manufacturing Excellence Awards recognising how important the industry is to the UK economy and I would encourage local firms to apply for awards potentially up to £20,000 in free consultancy advice. After being overlooked by the Tory-led Government for the Green Investment Bank Headquarters, in favour of Edinburgh, this money could be a huge boost for Teesside businesses.”

Cameron must act now to stop Chancellor ‘Bringing in a new Granny Tax’

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (April 10th 2012) said that Prime Minister David Cameron ‘must bring his chancellor, George Osborne, to heel’ after a national newspaper revealed that the Chancellor may be using advice from the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to increase the level of direct taxation on state pensions yet again.

Tom said: “The state pension, which rises from £102.15 to £107.45 a week today, is currently paid before tax is deducted. Now it has been revealed by the Independent newspaper that the Chancellor is considering slapping a 20 per cent basic tax rate on the sum at source, reducing it to £85.96 a week for millions.”

“They say that the Treasury’s tax advisers are looking into the idea and will report to George Osborne later this year in time for the next Budget. They are using the work of the Office of Tax Simplification in exactly the same way this was used as an excuse for bringing in the ‘granny tax’ at the recent budget.”

“The Independent has a quote from John Whiting, the tax director of the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), admitting that the idea has been aired and that the idea of bringing the state pension into the pay-as-you-earn system was ‘the front-runner’ in their inquiry work, although he admitted that this would cause ‘cash-flow issues’ for some pensioners.”

“The stark reality is that the two parties that make up the Coalition never had tax increases for pensioners in their manifestoes and it was not in even the small print of the Coalition agreement. It is wrong also for them to use work done by a civil service committee as a cloak for more financial attacks on hard done by pensioners. If the Chancellor is looking for ‘simplification’ then I would suggest he simplifies and tightens up on the tax loopholes which – it has also been admitted today – are leaving millionaires free to use elaborate tax avoidance measures to evade any payment back to the country in which they made their money. If he won’t do this, then I would call on the Prime Minister to intervene to make sure this happens instead.”

MP urges Charity Tax rethink amid concerns of falling donations

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has today (5th April 2012) expressed concern over reports that charities are under threat following the tax relief policy announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s controversial Budget last month.

The latest attack on the Budget comes from the think-tank Centre for Social Justice, which was formerly run by Welfare Minister Iain Duncan Smith and has been heavily influential with developing Government policy for charities.

Tom said:

“It’s a clear sign of how poor the recent Budget statement was that, over two weeks on from the announcement, it continues to draw new criticisms. “When a think-tank so heavily involved with Government ministers comes out against these proposals it is clear that the tax relief policy isn’t right. Already they are saying that big charity donors are now not only likely to give less but perhaps not at all.”

Under the new rules, people will only be able to claim tax relief on £50,000 or a quarter of their income, whichever is larger.
Tom added:

“On top of this we have the Prime Minister, David Cameron, set to invest £600 million into a fund for his failed ‘big society’ which seems like a knee jerk reaction to less charitable big donors following the failed Budget. David Cameron should put his ego aside and invest this money into Local Authorities that are struggling under immense cuts and are cutting back on things such as vital youth services and other struggling local organisations.”

“Small Print of Budget Contains Attack on Holiday Caravan Users”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (26th March 2012) revealed that hidden in the ‘very small print’ of the Chancellors tax announcements after the budget was ‘a bombshell’ for local people who rented static caravans as holiday or leisure homes.

In the 2012 budget it was announced in the detailed ‘Red Book’ that from the 1st October 2012 VAT (Value Added Tax) will be applied to static caravans, which could make your next holiday home 20% more expensive to buy. Previously, static caravans were in what the government has referred to as a ‘Tax Loophole’, meaning that they were 0% tax rated. The new budget will bring static caravans in line with touring caravans, meaning they will be taxed at the current VAT rate of 20%.

Tom said “This is a ticking time bomb for everyone in my constituency who prefer a quiet holiday near home rather than jetting off to Malaga or Benidorm. These are people who prefer to holiday at – for instance – the Hazelgrove Caravan park in Saltburn and who, through this, help the local economy and local shops. I suspect that it was this vital cash contribution to local seaside resorts that helped these caravans to be zero rated for VAT purposes. Now, at a stroke of the Chancellors pen, this has been set aside, meaning a big rental hike for ordinary families.

I also fear that some Caravan and Holiday Home owners might be tempted to milk this VAT rise by imposing rental rises which go beyond merely passing on the new VAT burden or attempt to push through these increases now, rather than waiting for the October implementation date. It is crucial that static caravan tenants look very carefully at the letters they get from caravan proprietors.”