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Volume 519: debated on Wednesday 1 December 2010

9. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the effect on average household outgoings in Scotland of raising the rate of value added tax to 20%. (26715)

The VAT rise is part of the Government’s credible plan to tackle the largest deficit in peacetime history. Difficult decisions are necessary, but as a consequence we will get our country back on a sustainable economic footing, to the benefit of everyone.

Does the Minister not agree that the rise in VAT—the most regressive tax, by his party leader’s own admission—will hit the poorest in our society hardest, particularly in Scotland, where incomes are lower and jobs continue to be lost?

What I acknowledge is that the Labour Government left us with a deficit £12 billion larger than they had told us, and that if we do not tackle that deficit everyone in Scotland will be worse off. [Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The voluntary sector in Scotland plays a vital role in supporting some of our most vulnerable families. The increase in VAT will cost Scotland’s voluntary sector dearly. What is the Minister actually doing to support that sector, so that it can deliver his vision of a big society?

This Government are committed to supporting the voluntary sector in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, but the hon. Lady should tell people in that sector and elsewhere in Scotland that the rise in VAT is a consequence of her party’s Government’s overspending.