Given the shocking levels of poverty in this country, the crisis caused by the introduction of Universal Credit, the removal of benefits for disabled people, the slashing of children’s services and the appalling treatment of elderly people – it’s hard to imagine that anything else can come along that leaves me open-mouthed. However, on Monday the Treasury put forward legislation to raise VAT for home solar-battery systems from 5 percent to 20 percent – and this was on the same day that MPs debated the government’s new net zero carbon target for 2050.
I’m astonished that just weeks after parliament declared a climate emergency the Government has announced a tax hike that will lead to fewer people installing solar-battery systems due to the massive price increase.
The Renewable Energy Association says the rise contradicts the government’s commitment to tackling climate change and it should be doing all it can to install these technologies rather than enacting barriers. Meanwhile, home coal supplies will continue to receive the lower VAT rate of 5 percent.
So Boris Johnson proposes tax cuts for the better off, whilst at the same time its revealed that an Army Private’s starting salary is nearly £1200 lower today than it was in 2010. In the Labour Party we think this is disgraceful.
Ahead of Armed Forces Day, we’ve launched five pledges of support for military personnel including scrapping the public sector pay cap, which has seen a 5.8% real terms pay cut for the starting salary of an Army Private. We also pledge to provide decent housing for forces and their families to end the growing reliance on the private rented sector, create a representative body similar to the Police Federation to give a voice for service men and women, end privatisation with a root and branch review of outsourcing and a clear presumption in favour of public delivery of public contracts and better access to schools for forces children with a dedicated local authorities admissions strategy for the particular challenge of frequent school moves.
After nearly a decade of cuts and privatisation our Forces and their families are paying the price. Those who serve our country deserve better.