Millions of families will have a troublesome 2016 when when the Tories' tax credit cuts kick in and a letter arrives from George Osborne telling them he’ll be cutting their wages by £1,350 a year. Email your MP now as there is a debate October 20th.
Back in July Tim Farron wrote to the then leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, calling on Labour to stand with the Liberal Democrats in opposing Tory £12bn worth of ideological cuts, which the Liberal Democrats opposed in Coalition, and continue to oppose now. Labour's failure to oppose these plans now unpicks the welfare system. A copy of Tim's letter is here.
Tax credits help low-paid families by topping up their salaries and paying up to £2,780 for each child. But under the Tory plans, families will be limited to child tax credits for two children. On top of that the point where the Government will start taking tax credits away will be lowered. So while a family used to need to earn £6,420 a year before your tax credits started disappearing, now they’ll earn only £3,850 - or £74.04 a week per family.
MPs are beginning to put up a fight against the cuts to tax credits, especially some marginal Tory's who voted for the cuts along party lines. They now fret about the impacts of the cuts on their constituents and feel the urge to protect the 'working poor' that got them elected in May.
What the Chancellor says is that in the July 2015 Budget he announced that workers on the minimum wage would be 'getting a pay rise'. What he didn’t say was that changes to tax credits will actually leave them worse off.
Families affected will find that any pay rise is more than wiped out by cuts to child tax credit and working tax credit. But it does not stop there. People earning £15,000, £25,000, and even £30,000 or more could face a big cut in their tax credits too. Use the Unison tax calculator to see how much you, or people you know, will lose out.
Locally, rather than helping protect the lowest earners and their children, both local Tory MPs, Tania Mathias in Twickenham and Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park, voted FOR the tax cuts that will effect 4,400 working families and 7,800 children in Twickenham and Richmond Park.
Speaking in the House of Commons Tim Farron called Tory plans to rip £12bn from welfare bill “unfair, unwise and inhuman”. He said the cut was unnecessary and accused George Osborne of choosing to attack the poorest families and “demonising” people with disabilities and mental health conditions under the guise of economic necessity. He also accused Labour (under Harriet Harman) of giving in to the Conservatives’ narrative and said their position on the bill was “shameful”. Jeremy Corbyn did use his first main speech as Labour leader to commit the party to opposing the welfare bill and the benefits cap.
Back in April the LibDems said the Tories were going to slash welfare, so no one should be too surprised by all this. Now the debate around tax credits has become toxic for the Tories as it undermines promises they made before the election, their rebranding as a party 'for the workers' and the Prime Minister preaching “opportunity” and “security” at the Conservative party conference.
On October 20th the following motion has been tabled for debate by the opposition: "That this House calls on the Government to reverse its decision to cut tax credits, which is due to come into effect in April 2016." Giving MPs a chance to find their conscience and save working families from yet more financial hardship. Tory MPs especially are expecting to be under siege from their constituents in the new year.
The Unison map below shows how many thousands of families are affected by the tax credit changes in each constituency. Look up areas where you might know people that will be effected.
Take action and email your MP now.