Osborne faces tax credit test

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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slashing TAX credits for families could deeply unsettle the Conservative Government today as MPs flock to the House of Commons to have their voice heard over the controversial proposal.

As various Conservatives make pleas for the Chancellor to soften the policy, Labour MP Rachel Reeves, is taking a one day break from maternity leave to vote on the issue, travelling from her constituency of Leeds West to London especially.

She said she couldn’t stand by while 4,900 working families in her constituency will lose £1300 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. That’s why I will be in Parliament today voting to stop these tax credit cuts.”

Chancellor George Osborne’s tax credit refor will limit the benefit 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, which will rise to £9 an hour by the end of the Parliament in 2020.

However Ms Reeves said the policy attacks those struggling to cover the cost of living.

Today Labour has timetabled an Opposition Day debate, which it is entitled to do 20 times per Parliamentary session.

With a majority of just 12 MPs, the Conservative Party will have to ensure that nearly all its members vote against it to make sure Labour don’t sweep to victory and overturn the decision.

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. How both Yorkshire MPs vote today will be under close scrunity.

Labour’s Rachel Reeves, who was former shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “Claims that these families will be compensated by his so-called ‘National Living Wage’ had already been rubbished by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. “And now new figures that I commissioned from the House of Commons library show just how hard these cuts will hit.

“A family with two children and two parents each earning the minimum wage will see a fall in their income of £1,847 in 2016-17. By the end of this Parliament, this family will have lost a devastating £7,700.

“A family with one earner on the minimum wage will be £1,525 worse off in 2016-17, and almost £7,000 worse off in total over the course of the Parliament.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, said he believed the tax credit changes were under “intensive review”.

He told Radio 4: “Believe me, we’ve all been talking about it. This is something that is under intensive review and consultation at the moment.”

Conservative candidate for London mayor Zac Goldsmith has joined calls for the Government’s tax credit cuts to be phased in to protect families.