Lower-income families will suffer

Darren Bisby-Boyd, Green Party spokesman and parish councillor
Darren Bisby-Boyd, Green Party spokesman and parish councillor
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Darren Bisby-Boyd, Green Party spokesman and parish councillor:

I recently wrote to my MP for North-West Cambridgeshire Shailesh Vara about cuts to tax credits.

It was refreshing to see members of his party speaking out for working families. Unfortunately I did not receive a response from Shailesh Vara. So I recently contacted him again in an effort to see if this was just an oversight and hopefully he will be convinced to stand against these cuts to tax credits and understand that this will hurt so many hard working families.

These proposed plans are a new and unacceptable step in the government’s attack on lower-income families. During the election campaign, the Chancellor was worryingly vague about his plans to cut £12 billion from the welfare bill, and now we see why: the cuts will, as many feared, fall on those who can ill afford them. Claims that these changes would encourage parents into work are an illustration of the economic illiteracy of this government: these changes to tax credits would see families’ entitlement to tax credits running out at a lower income threshold. Far from the government’s promise to reward ‘hard-working families’, these proposals are fundamentally an attack on those in work.

Savage welfare reforms implemented by the previous government have already seen child poverty soaring to 4 in 10 children in some areas, with escalating numbers of teachers reporting that they bring in food themselves to give to the hungry children who come into school. There is an abundance of evidence highlighting the link between poverty and poor educational outcomes, increasing the likelihood of today’s children being the next generation of impoverished working adults.

David Cameron said he ‘didn’t want’ to cut tax credits - but just three months later it was in George Osborne’s budget. David Cameron’s government slashed tax credits for working people today - breaking a promise he made to the British people just days before the general election. How can the British people ever trust what David Cameron and the Conservative Party say in the future again?

He made the pledge not once, but twice - and the evidence is staring him in the face. But now David Cameron says he’s “delighted” his government is cutting vital tax credits for hard working people today.

The Prime Minister made the shocking admission during PMQs. Whereby the Government only managed to secure a majority of 20 in support of the bill.

Working tax credits top up the salaries of Britain’s most poorly paid people, and child tax credits help low income families make ends meet. The rise of the minimum wage to £7.20 per hour is not a living wage (£7.85 per hour) and does not cover the gap that will be left by taking tax credits away. I hope that I do not sound pious, but I think that this is about honouring their word – the Prime Minister’s word – that work must always pay. It is about respect for those who strive to do everything we ask of them and now find themselves punished for doing what’s right.

Millions of working families claim both benefits - and they can be worth thousands of pounds a year. The Institute for Fiscal Studies – the nation’s leading independent economic analysts – advise that this cut will make 3.3 million families worse off by £1,300 per year on average. That’s on average: by definition, many families will lose even more. Even though House of Lords peers voted by a majority of 17 to back calls for the government to provide full financial redress to the millions of tax credit claimants who will be affected when their entitlements are reduced.

Peers inflicted a second defeat by backing a delay in the cuts until an assessment of their financial impact is carried out. However, David Cameron and George Osborne vowed to press on with changes designed to save billions from welfare. Even though the government said they would listen to the public they said that the actions of the unelected second chamber had constitutional implications 
which would “need to be dealt with”.

This policy will not make work pay. For millions of people, it will make work pay less.

As the Government continues to push the burden of austerity on to people least able to bear it, we must all start asking how many generations of soaring inequality we will tolerate before the Government accepts that austerity has failed, and that the wellbeing of everyone in our society must become the highest priority. People living in poverty and struggling to get by need to be protected and have their rights stood up for, instead this government have chosen to stand up for the wealthy by giving them tax breaks and the financial sector who caused the financial crisis in the first place.