Column for Ilford Recorder 27 December 2012

This is a season of celebration, festivities and enjoyment and a chance to reflect on both the good and bad in 2012.  Times are tough and 2013 will be difficult for many. The government admits their Work Programme is worse than doing nothing: leaving millions locked out of work and pushing the benefit bill up by £13.6 billion higher than expected. To pay for that failure they are raiding the budget of the Universal Credit programme which was supposed to make sure you’re always better off in work.  On January 8th MPs will be asked to vote for cuts to welfare benefits. David Cameron and George Osborne claim their new cuts announced in the Autumn Statement are aimed at the ‘shirkers’ and ‘scroungers’. But the truth is that six out of ten people hit are people who get up every morning and go to work like the factory worker; the carer looking after elderly people around the clock and the new mum who will lose her maternity pay. Those losing out aren’t skivers; they’re strivers. It’s hard-working people, trying to do the right thing, who are paying the price for Tory and Lib Dem economic failure. 9,400 families in Ilford South will be hit by George Osborne’s ‘Strivers’ tax.’  The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that one earner families with children will on average be £534 a year worse off  by 2015. Yet 8,000 millionaires will get an average tax cut of over £107,000 extra next April. There is nothing fair about making striving working families pay the price for this government’s economic failure, while they give a £3 billion tax cut to the richest earners in the country.  Despite the problems we face I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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