Less well-off families would be hit hardest because they spend a larger proportion on food and goods not currently charged at the full rate.
Leading Tories exposed their true colours yesterday by launching a plan to slap 15% VAT on essentials, including food and children’s clothes.
The Free Enterprise Group – which lists Treasury Minister Sajid Javid among its members – also recommends tripling the tax on heating bills.
The right-wing plan was unveiled by Old Etonian Kwasi Kwarteng, spokesman for the influential group of ministers and MPs.
They want to end both VAT exemptions and the reduced rate on essential items.
These would be abolished along with the existing standard 20% rate and replaced with a 15% charge on all purchases.
Chancellor George Osborne is being pressured to adopt the move in the Autumn Statement on the economy next month.
The highly controversial recommendation comes as the rate of food price rises is already leaping ahead of pay increases.
And as the most vulnerable are being forced to chose between heating and eating – causing a sharp rise in malnutrition cases – the callous proposal will be seen as one more case of the Tories looking after its voters at the expense of the poor.
Britain would be hammered by steep prices rises for “zero rated” items, including prescriptions, bus and train fares, most food – and children’s clothes and shoes.
There would also be big increases in electricity, gas, car seats, mobility aids and other products on the reduced 5% rate.
A weekly grocery bill of £54.80 would go up by £8.22, an outing for £251.10 worth of under 14s clothes would jump £37.66 and a fuel bill of £1,267 would rise £127.
Labour MP Phil Wilson added: “This shocking proposal to increase the price of food and children’s clothes by 15% shows the true face of David Cameron’s Conservatives.
“At a time when families face a cost-of-living crisis, you have to be spectacularly out of touch to suggest VAT on food and children’s clothes.”
Less well-off families would be hit hardest because they spend a larger proportion on food and goods not currently charged at the full rate, say experts.
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