Lib Dems Call To Abandon VAT Cut To Help Jobless Young

Nick Clegg(Reuters) – The government should abandon its temporary cut in VAT immediately and use the money to tackle unemployment among young people, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said today.

The government cut the rate of the VAT sales tax at the end of last year from 17.5% to 15% to stimulate consumer spending as part of its fiscal stimulus measures.

It is due to return to its old level at the end of 2009.

The Lib Dems opposed the measure, and Clegg said it would be better to spend the £28 million the VAT cut cost every day on dealing with youth unemployment.

He said that those in the 16 to 24 age group accounted for 40% of unemployment, and that the jobless rate among those aged 18 to 24 was 17.2% compared to 7.8% across all ages.

Clegg said his party would fund 10,000 more university places and 50,000 more college based foundation degree places.

It would also introduce an internship scheme where young people would be paid £55 per week for three months work, at no cost to the employer, to give them experience to improve their CVs and time off from job hunting.

There would also be a ’90-day promise’ to make available a job, training or education, or an internship after three months of unemployment.

The overall cost of the proposals would be £1.1 billion, while keeping the VAT cut until the end of the year would be about 2.6 billion pounds, the Lib Dems say.

‘It is vital that we act now to ease the unemployment crisis before it gets worse,’ a party policy document said.

‘Our plans will ensure that no young person is abandoned when they are unemployed.’

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