Owen Smith MP, Labour's Shadow Treasury Minister, said in response to today's inflation figures:
"Families and pensioners are really feeling the squeeze because the VAT rise and the Government’s failure to act on soaring energy prices are pushing up inflation. With Britain now having the highest inflation of any EU country except Estonia, it’s time out of touch Ministers started taking some responsibility and took action now.
"Reversing January’s VAT rise temporarily, as part of Labour’s five point plan for jobs, would ease the squeeze on families and help to kick-start our flatlining economy. It would cut petrol prices by 3p a litre and give a couple with children an average boost of £450 a year. The Government also needs to do much more to stem soaring energy bills, especially as pensioners will get a lower winter fuel allowance this year.
"The Chancellor has put the Bank of England in an impossible position. It has been left to do all the work to support the flatlining economy, while spending cuts and tax rises that go too far and too fast have choked off the recovery and the VAT rise has fuelled inflation too.
"With the British recovery choked off over a year ago – well before the recent eurozone crisis – we urgently need a change of course. With every day that passes when out of touch Ministers just sit on their hands and blame events abroad for mistakes they have made at home, living standards are squeezed harder, more businesses go bust and hundreds more people join the dole queue."