Blogpost: The shame of tax credits

Blogpost by Scott Nelson

On 30 April 2015, David Cameron announced on BBC Question Time that he would not cut Tax Credits, which reassured millions of working families across the country; less than six months later the Conservatives voted overwhelmingly to cut Tax Credits. This is absolutely shameful and proves the Conservatives cannot be trusted. It also proves they are not a party in the national interest.

A working mother recently said on BBC Question Time how Tax Credit cuts will adversely affect her family. Almost in tears, the lady said how reliant she is on Tax Credits because her salary is not enough to support her children, and without her Tax Credits she will be worse off. She is at her wits’ end and there are millions of other people like her across the country.

The Daily Mirror recently revealed that only 24% of jobs in Thurrock pay a decent living wage, so many working people in the borough are reliant on Tax Credits.

Years ago, Thurrock was a very industrialised area with a power station in West Thurrock and another in Tilbury, and there were also cement works and factories. These jobs were well-paid skilled labour jobs, but since the 1980s Thurrock’s industry has dwindled away.

Lakeside opened in 1990 and has since replaced the well-paid skilled jobs Thurrock once boasted, but the problem with the retail sector is the pay. Most of these jobs only pay the Minimum Wage and others are zero hours or part-time contracts which is why so many people in Thurrock are reliant on Tax Credits.

The Conservatives talk about ‘the Living Wage’ (a Labour policy which George Osborne has swiped) making up for the shortfall of Tax Credit cuts. They also boast that the Living Wage will be £9 an hour – but not until at least 2020, and by then the cost of living will be greater, so the £9-an-hour Living Wage will make no difference whatsoever.

Employers across the country have raised concerns about the Living Wage and have warned the Conservatives that it will lead to job losses. Employers say they will have to reduce the workforce so the Living Wage can be implemented.

Labour would have given smaller companies a tax cut to enable employers to pay a Living Wage but the Conservatives have a different approach. I also believe it should be legislated that large or multinational companies trading in Britain pay a Living Wage. If a company can afford to pay senior managers six-figure salaries and bonuses then they can afford to pay a Living Wage.

Tax Credits are a lifeline to so many working families in Thurrock. I am absolutely disgusted that during recent welfare and Tax Credit debates in parliament, Conservative MPs laughed and jeered at Labour MPs for raising serious concerns about these cuts, and the negative impacts they will have on working families. This just proves that the hardworking people of Thurrock are worthless to Conservative MPs who think hardship is something to laugh at.

Ironically, UKIP claims to be a party of the working class, yet their only MP – Douglas Carswell, a former Conservative – voted to cut your Tax Credits. And UKIP MEP/Thurrock Councillor Tim Aker also backs these savage Conservative attacks against working families in Thurrock. UKIP has proved whose side they are really on: David Cameron’s.

Labour is the only party in Thurrock fighting for working families. We are strongly against Tax Credit cuts because we understand the hardship these cuts will have on working families. We introduced Tax Credits in 2003 which helped get more people into work and also lifted children out of poverty.

Our Conservative MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, needs to understand the hardship Tax Credit cuts will cause her constituents in Thurrock. Families will struggle financially. Children will go hungry. And some people will lose their jobs thus pushing them back into welfare dependency.

Despite the Conservatives telling us that Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, our child poverty rate is absolutely shocking. Child poverty in Britain is on the increase and will worsen when Tax Credit cuts come into effect. Mind you, it will give the Conservatives something to laugh about…

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