Government showing contempt over past promises on cutting energy VAT – Carmichael

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has voiced disappointment after it emerged today that the government will not cut VAT on energy bills. Energy bills are currently taxed at the lower rate of 5% VAT but an elimination of the tax had been lauded by the Prime Minister previously as a promised benefit of leaving the EU. Wholesale energy prices have risen significantly in recent months as winter approaches amid fears of a “Winter of Discontent” with wages failing to keep up with the cost of living.

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Half of National Living Wage rise wiped out by tax and National Insurance hike

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has responded to reports that the government plans to announce a rise in the National Living Wage from £8.91 per hour to £9.50, to come into effect from 1 April next year.

Research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that a full-time worker paid the National Living Wage will see nearly half (44%) of the proposed increase wiped out before it even reaches their bank account due to tax and the increase in National Insurance.

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Small businesses hit with £2.4bn tax bombshell after Conservative broken promise

Small and medium-sized businesses, from tech startups to hairdressers and cafes, will pay an extra £2.4bn a year due to the rise in national insurance, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has found. A breakdown of the figures suggests that small and medium-sized businesses in Orkney and Shetland will pay an additional £1.3m and £1.4m, respectively.

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Carmichael responds to PM remarks that recycling “doesn’t work”

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on the government to reconsider his Plastic Pollution Bill and amendments to the Environment Bill to tackle plastic pollution, after the Prime Minister admitted that reducing plastic pollution is far more important than recycling. Boris Johnson said that recycling plastic “doesn’t work” as he argued that we need to reduce the amount of the material that is used, during a press conference with children in Downing Street on Monday. He told them that “recycling isn’t the answer. Recycling... it doesn’t begin to address the problem” and that “the only answer” was “to cut down on our use of plastic.”

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Carmichael joins cross-party letter on food waste

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has joined MPs from across Parliament to back FareShare’s “Food on Plates” campaign in a letter to the Prime Minister. The campaign calls for funding to support farmers and food producers passing on unsold produce to charities, to reduce the two million tonnes of food wasted every year in the UK, and notes that funding of just £5m per year would be enough to double the amount of unused food making it to charities.

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Carmichael raises concerns about uneven New Zealand trade agreement

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today voiced concerns as the outline of a UK-New Zealand trade deal was announced. The deal is expected to follow in the form of the upcoming agreement with Australia, giving significantly greater access for New Zealand agriculture with almost no predicted GDP growth for the UK according to the government’s own estimates. The National Farmers’ Union has already warned that the deal risks “huge downsides” for farmers.

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Carmichael presses ministers on missing support for marine renewables

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today pressed the International Trade Secretary and the President of COP26 for fiscal support for marine renewables deployment to be delivered in time for the COP26 climate summit next month. Ministers had previously indicated that specific support for tidal energy would be included in the upcoming Contract for Difference funding round, but the initial draft framework has not included this. Amendments to the plan are due by the end of November. The Northern Isles host a range of marine renewables projects, including the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney and Orbital Marine in Shetland. Mr Carmichael also wrote in the Herald today on the need for further investment in tidal stream energy.

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Carmichael lodges parliamentary motion recognising last crew member of the Shetland Bus

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today lodged a parliamentary Early Day Motion recognising the passing this week of the last surviving crew member of the “Shetland Bus”, Jakob Strandheim. The Shetland Bus was a series of operations run between occupied Norway and Shetland during the Second World War, transporting refugees out of Axis-controlled territory and moving agents and material into Norway to disrupt enemy forces.

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Carmichael calls for parliamentary enquiry into DVSA

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today written to the Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee calling for an enquiry into the operations of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Mr Carmichael made the intervention with the Committee in light of growing frustrations with the agency’s behaviour locally in the isles and its central role in long-term plans to increase the numbers of UK HGV lorry drivers. This week it emerged that the DVSA had cancelled all theory tests in both Orkney and Shetland for the month of October, while nationally the UK faces a shortfall of HGV drivers of as much as 100,000.

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Carmichael condemns government as Universal Credit cut hits

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today condemned the Conservative government for implementing its cut to Universal Credit today, which will cost individuals in receipt of the benefit – including many workers – £20 per week, or £1040 per year. The cut comes despite mounting evidence of a cost of living crisis across the UK, with price inflation running ahead of wage growth. Analysis last month by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that in Orkney and Shetland, 2250 (12%) working age families will be impacted and 1200 (26%) working-age families with children.

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