Taxation of the over 65s – Granny Tax Labour to fight Tories’ tax raid on pensioners

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On Thursday, Labour will force a vote in the House of Commons on the Tory-led Government’s controversial “Granny Tax”.

Local Labour MP Ian Murray will be voting alongside other MPs against measures announced in the budget which will see, from next April, pensioners who pay income tax losing on average £83 a year – while 14,000 people earning over £1 million receive a tax cut.

Commenting on the tax raid on pensioners, Ian Murray MP said:

“It can’t be right that while putting up taxes for pensioners, David Cameron is giving millionaires a tax cut.

These are tough times, and the Government should be doing all it can. But David Cameron and the Tories are out of touch, making things harder not easier.

 Labour would stop David Cameron’s raid on pensioners, and block his £40,000 tax cut for millionaires. The message is clear – only Labour will stand up for pensioners and working people in South Edinburgh in tough times.”

Ian calls for fairer energy prices as cold weather returns to Edinburgh

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Ian Murray MP fears that thousands of elderly residents in Edinburgh are being ripped off by energy companies that charge them higher rates – and has called for fairer pricing for the over-75s.

Currently energy companies offer customers more than 400 different price tariffs, making the process of identifying the best deal incredibly complex.

Elderly customers are most vulnerable to the cold, yet they are less likely to investigate cheaper tariffs or to have access to price comparison sites on the internet.

Now Ian is backing calls for energy companies to be compelled to make sure customers who are over 75 are paying the cheapest tariff on offer for their gas and electricity.

Across the five Edinburgh constituencies it has been estimated this would save 35,000 over-75s as much as £200 off their fuel bills.

Ian, who is Shadow Business Minister for Consumer Affairs, said: “Elderly residents can be really vulnerable to the cold, and yet they are amongst the most likely to be charged the highest tariffs.

“With more than 400 different price packages on offer, we all know how confusing it can be to find the best deal. And it is wrong that the most vulnerable customers in the marketplace should be those who are forced to pay the highest price

“If energy companies are to act responsibly I strongly believe they should move customers who are 75 or older onto the cheapest tariff that they offer for gas and electricity.

“This doesn’t mean they should subsidise the energy costs of this vulnerable group, but simply that they offer this group of customers the same low tariffs that they are offering to others.

“This is a reasonable suggestion that I hope the energy companies will accept – but if they don’t I believe legislation should be put in place to force them to do so.”

In the Edinburgh South constituency alone this is likely to have an impact on 7,377 residents who are 75 or older.

Commenting on the plans, Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “Soaring energy bills are driving up inflation and contributing to the cost of living crisis affecting millions of families and pensioners.

“Labour’s plan to put all over 75s on the cheapest tariff will cut the gas and electricity bills of more than four million elderly pensioners, not through spending more money, but by getting our energy firms to show greater responsibility to their most vulnerable customers.”

“Such a large rise in the price of stamps is the last thing we need”

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Ian Murray MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs, commenting on today’s increase in the price of stamps, said:

“An increase in the price of stamps will hit the elderly, vulnerable and millions of people who rely on the postal service, including small businesses and charities.

“At a time when family budgets are facing an unprecedented squeeze, the cost of living is rising and growth has been stalled by David Cameron and George Osborne’s policies, such a large rise in the price of stamps is the last thing we need. This decision is a direct result of the Government pursuing the privatisation of Royal Mail.

“Royal Mail must recognise the tough circumstances people are facing and ensure that the postal service remains affordable and accessible.

“Following recent comments by Royal Mail Chief Executive Moya Greene that Christmas 2012 stamp prices will be held at 2011 levels for vulnerable customers, we look forward to hearing further details on how this will work in practice.”

South Edinburgh community groups enjoy tea with Ian Murray MP and STV

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By Clare Carswell

Source: STV Local 25 March 2012 07:30 BST

More than 30 people were at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church to learn more about the Local websites

STV’s Sheena Borthwick with Ian Murray MP for Edinburgh South.

Members of community groups from across South Edinburgh shared a cup of tea with local MP Ian Murray at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church as they learned more about STV Local.

More than 30 representatives from various organisations showed up for Edinburgh’s first Tea with your MP and STV event as a way to build their understanding and use of social media.

Ian Murray welcomed those present to the meeting and described STV Local Edinburgh as a “great resource” and encouraged them to get involved with the website.

After the meeting he said: “Local community groups really struggle to get stuff out. Traditional media now is very difficult so STV Local providing that platform for them to get their message across is just a crucial tool for them to use.

“What will happen is when a few groups see the benefit of it I think it will explode and many groups will come together to use facilities so it’s a really good thing to be doing, hopefully it will be hugely successful.

“To have 30 groups here on a Saturday morning is fantastic and they were really engaged to see what was happening they will all be using it I’m sure.

“What surprised me most was the breadth of people who were here, there were traders associations, there was a head injuries charity, there was a dementia charity, community councils so you can see the scope that it has to benefit many different groups”.

Tea with our MP and STV events will be taking place across Edinburgh over the next few months.

Ian Murray MP tells Government ‘Don’t Drop the Tax Credits Bombshell’

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Ian Murray MP joined shopworkers union Usdaw and national charities campaigning against the £3,870 ‘Tax Credits Bombshell’ that the Government is set to drop on 185 low-income families in Edinburgh South on 6 April.

In just a few weeks’ time, couples with children who currently work between 16 and 24 hours a week will have to increase their hours of work to 24 hours a week, or face losing a staggering £3,870 in tax credits.  Ian Murray MP said

“The Government doesn’t seem to realise that extra hours of work, or alternative jobs are just not available for most people at the moment because unemployment is so high and many employers are having to cut costs.

“Yet the Government plan to punish families on low incomes who can’t find extra hours of work by taking nearly £4,000 from them in just a few weeks’ time.  This is an enormous amount for anyone to lose, and will mean families losing their homes, struggling to afford even food and fuel costs.  It is unbelievable that the Government plan to do this to low-income families at the same time as considering abolishing the 50p rate of tax to help people earning over £150,000!

“The Government’s own figures show that after 6 April many of these families would be hundreds of pounds better off on benefits than in work so I am calling on the Government to postpone this change until there are more jobs available.  For the sake of all the families in this constituency, as well as over 200,000 couples across the UK, I hope that they will do so before it is too late.”

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary thanks Ian Murray MP for his support, saying,

“Thousands of Usdaw’s members are faced with losing over 20% of their total household income, just because they are unable to find extra hours of work at a time when so few jobs are available.

“Nationally, over 200,000 couples with 470,000 children will be affected by these changes to tax credit rules, meaning nearly half a million more children could end up in poverty in April because of the actions of this Government.

“When Universal Credit is introduced in 18 months’ time, there will be no rules for minimum hours of work.  So these families are being forced into hardship for 18 months in a way that will bring no long-term benefit to the taxpayer.

“Usdaw are doing all we can to support our members affected by these changes and we are very grateful for Ian Murray’s assistance.”

The changes to tax credits affect couples with children.  From 6 April, couples will have to work 24 hours a week in total between them to qualify for Working Tax Credit.

If you are concerned that you may be affected by the changes:

1.  Find out if you are affected – ring the tax credits helpline on 0845 300 3900

2.  If you need to find extra work, ask your employer or at the Job Centre

3.  Make sure you are getting the support you are entitled to.  See the online Benefits Advisor on the Direct Gov website to check: www.direct.gov.uk

4.  Let me know how these changes to tax credits will affect you and your family – please write or email me ….