Lewes Lib Dems call for tax credit cuts to be dropped

Lib Dem Sarah Osborne has opposed cuts to tax credits
Lib Dem Sarah Osborne has opposed cuts to tax credits

Government plans to cut tax credits will ‘hammer families’ and should be dropped following a House of Lords defeat - Lib Dems in Lewes have urged.

The majority of Lords supported a motion on Monday calling for the cuts to be delayed until a fuller analysis of their impact is undertaken as well as measures to provide full transitional protection for low income families for three years.

Opponents of the changes have said that three million families could be affected, with some set to be £1,300 a year worse off.

According to Lib Dems more than 5,000 children in the Lewes constituency could be affected by the cuts, leaving an average family £750 worse off each year, with the new minimum wage only offsetting this by £200.

Local Lib Dem campaigner, James MacCleary, said: “The changes to tax credits will hammer families in our community.

“Many of us feared what a Conservative MP would mean for our area and now we know. The Tories promised not to cut tax credits, and now that’s precisely what they’re doing.

“Over 5,000 children in our area will now be forced to live in poorer households, reducing their life chances and making it harder for their parents to make ends meet.

“Lib Dem members of the House of Lords tried to stop the plan, but sadly Labour refused to back them for political reasons and now all we have is a delay. Lib Dems will continue to fight these unfair Tory plans.”

Sarah Osborne, leader of the Lib Dem group at Lewes District Council, added: “Study after study have shown that the Conservative claim to be supporting low income families through a minimum wage increase nowhere near make up for these cuts.

“It’s time for them to come clean and be honest with those going out to work.

“I am pleased Lib Dems in Parliament are opposing this measure. We worked hard in Coalition to ensure that work would always pay more than choosing to remain on benefits. It is a disgrace the Conservatives are now undermining this good work.”

Under the proposed changes the income threshold for working tax credits would be cut from £6,420 to £3,850 a year, and the rate at which payments are cut will be made faster.

Chancellor George Osborne’s emergency Budget in the summer also committed to changes to the child element of tax credit and universal credit which will mean it is no longer available to families for third and subsequent children born after April 2017.

This was alongside plans for a National Living Wage of £7.20, which will be introduced in April 2016, rising to £9 an hour by 2020.

Following the Lords’ vote, the Tory Government has launched a review into the workings of Parliament, as the Lords has not traditionally blocked financial legislation that has the backing of a majority of MPs in the Commons.

According to a poll commissioned by campaign group 38 Degrees and carried out by YouGov, 51 per cent of people in the South East said that tax credit cuts should not go ahead in their current form.

Of these, 16 per cent thought cuts should still go ahead but at a different time or at a lower rate, 17 per cent thought they should not go ahead altogether, while 18 per cent backed cuts or changes elsewhere.

Rebecca Falcon, campaigns manager at 38 Degrees, said: “If these cuts go ahead, thousands of families on low pay will be worse off each month. More than a 100,000 people have already joined the campaign to stop the cuts, and 1 in 6 people in Britain want the government to u-turn now. The government is on the wrong side of public opinion.”

But this week Mr Osborne said that tax credit spending had to be brought under control and argued that uncontrolled spending on welfare was a threat to the UK’s economic security.

Modifications to proposals could be announced in his Autumn Statement, which is due at the end of November.