At the last General Election the Conservatives vowed to cut £12 billion from the welfare bill but were vague about exactly where the savings would be made, which in turn prompted people to ask David Cameron directly, and on more than one occasion, if the savings would be made by cutting Tax Credits, to which he responded with a categorical no. However, no sooner was the election out of the way, and before the dust had time to settle, they began to push through parliament huge cuts to tax credits despite promising the electorate they wouldn’t.
This is of extreme importance here, as in the Peterborough Constituency alone 68% of all families claim tax credits, moreover, 78% of all Peterborough’s children live in a house where tax credits are claimed.
These tax credit cuts will see an average loss of £1,300 to a family’s income at a time when wages have stagnated for the past few years but the cost of living has risen. It is a huge chunk of money people can ill afford to lose, especially when they are already struggling to stay afloat financially.
It was because Peterborough is one of the worst affected constituencies in the country and has such a high proportion of children that will be affected by the cuts that Channel 4 news came here and spoke to some working mums who will be affected and Jon Snow the Channel 4 presenter interviewed Stewart Jackson the MP elected to represent their interests.
Jon Snow asked Mr Jackson why he was such a strong supporter of the cuts when so many children in his own constituency would be affected and what representations he had made to the Chancellor on their behalf. Mr Jackson proceeded to mutter something about it all being Labour’s fault to which Jon Snow intervened asking him to answer the question, this he did numerous times throughout the interview as he continually tried to duck answering.
During the interview Mr Jackson also showed his complete lack of understanding as to what these credits actually are, saying he wanted to get people back into work. The clue should have been in the name, Working Families Tax Credits, they are paid to people already in work but not earning enough money to live on.
By cutting Working Families Tax Credits the Tories are wounding the incomes of the very people they profess to want to help, those people who do the right thing and go out to work, the so called striver’s.
Despite both Peterborough MPs voting for these cuts which narrowly passed through parliament, thankfully for Peterborough’s children, once the Bill made its way to the House of Lords, a majority supported Labour Peer Baroness Meacher’s amendment to put the bill on hold and allow time for independent analysis. The Lords also backed Labour’s call for transitional support for families giving working families a reprieve and thus sending it back to the Chancellor to think again.
What I just cannot understand is why both MPs for Peterborough would choose to put their own ideological beliefs in cutting the state above their own constituents interests when so many of the city’s children will be plunged into poverty as a result?
It’s time they did the job they were elected to by the people of Peterborough and stand up for their interests in parliament.