Don’t cut tax credits, says Birmingham MP

Call to maintain family income levels.

Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff has condemned the government’s expected plans to slash tax credits in the Budget next week. He said, “The Government’s plans to cut tax credits will cause huge amounts of misery and financial hardship to working people whose wages are too low for them to survive on without Government help. These people are absolutely not shirkers or skivers — they do essential jobs for very little money and simply do not earn enough to live on without help.”

A wide range of people, including shop workers and carers, currently receive tax credits as, despite working full time, their wages are too low to pay for rent, food and other essentials. This money is essentially a handout from the taxpayer to employers which refuse to pay the living wage.

However, Roger believes that the Government urgently needs to sort out the problem of poverty pay that is too low to live on before they can begin to think about cutting tax credits. He commented: “The Coalition Government refused to bring the minimum wage up to a living wage, leaving a large number of people earning too little to live on without tax credits. They are now planning to take away this essential support without taking any action to increase these workers’ wages to bridge the gap.

“The Conservative Party made a rash, un-costed and utterly un-thought out pre-election pledge to cut welfare by £12 billion. Now that they are in power, they are scrabbling for ways to take this huge amount of money out of the pockets of UK citizens who desperately need it to pay for their basic living costs. It is widely anticipated that the Budget on 8 July will include cuts to working tax credits and child tax credits, which will have a brutal effect on some of the poorest people in our society—and this from the same Government which insisted on cutting the top rate of tax to ensure that the rich pay less!”

“This shows once again why we need strong trade unions which are able to fight for their members’ pay and conditions. Without collective bargaining, workers’ wages are pushed downwards while CEOs and shareholders receive an ever-larger slice of the pie. I do not believe that it is fundamentally right for the UK taxpayer to provide handouts to corporations which refuse to pay the living wage. However, the way to tackle this is to bring in legislation to make the minimum wage a living wage before cutting tax credits. It should be remembered that many people who use food banks are the ‘working poor’ who, even with tax credits, struggle to feed their families seven days a week.”

“I will vote against any cuts to tax credits or to any other form of essential state support for those who are ill, disabled, trying to find work or working hard for too little money. However, I remain deeply concerned that the Conservatives will push through these cuts, leading to an appalling increase in poverty and inequality in our society. We need to urgently ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in.

“Do we want a society in which many workers struggle along in desperate poverty, unable to properly feed and clothe their children, despite working long hours for minimum pay, while those at the top get even richer? Or do we want a fairer and more equal UK, in which all work pays enough to survive on with dignity and fully participate in society?”