Labour plan to topple tax credits fails

George Osborne
George Osborne
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Labour’s plan to reverse controversial Conservative reforms of tax credits has failed tonight as MPs voted against a motion to drop the proposal.

Despite various Conservative pleas for Chancellor George Osborne to soften his approach to tax credits, MPs voted 317 to 295 against a Labour motion asking the Government to abandon the plan, due to be introduced next April.

Yorkshire MPs spoke out during the three hour debate, which heard from 52 politicians.

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain, said in the Commons that the cuts would have a disproportionate impact on black and ethnic minority communities, and hit 13,700 children in his constituency.

He said: “In my constituency these cuts wil be devastating. Around 15,500 families in Bradford East receive tax credits, 13,700 of those have children. Over four times as many as the Chancellor’s seat. So he doesn’t understand the effect these cuts will have and he never will.

“Tax credits constitute 2% of weekly household incomes for white families, and 10% for families of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage. These are families which are often already in poverty because of poor wages.”

Labour MP Rachel Reeves took a one-day break from maternity leave to vote on the issue, travelling from her constituency of Leeds West to London specially.

She said she could not stand by while 4,900 working families in her constituency will lose £1,300 from next April and this will be the first time she has voted since giving birth to her second child in the summer.

She said: “These cuts will have devastating impacts for families, and more and more people are coming to my advice surgeries worried about how they will provide for their families and make ends meet.”

From April, the threshold at which tax credits begin to be withdrawn will fall from £6,420 to £3,850, and people’s credit entitlement over this amount will be reduced more steeply.

Child benefit will be reduced to families which have two children. Those with a third child or more will not receive the tax relief, and this is set to save the Government £4.5bn a year.

The Government has said people won’t lose out in the long-term because of the rise in the living wage, to £9 an hour by the end of the Parliament in 2020.

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, said the Government was delivering a ‘whole package’ in regards to welfare reform including universal credit, enhanced child care, tax thresholds and an increased national living wage.

He said: “We do not need more welfare, but more jobs and better jobs.”

The last time an Opposition Day debate succeeded in over-turning the Government was in 2009 on the settlement rights of the families of Gurkah soldiers.

Conservative MP David Davis, of Haltemprice and Howden, was one of just two MPs who voted against the Government’s tax credits motion in September, alongside Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage.

Andrew Percy, Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, has also spoken out previously on tax credits and abstained.