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Mike's Ilford Recorder Column (15/10/2015)

At the General election the Conservative party made clear it would introduce deep cuts to "welfare" spending, but it did not spell out where the cuts would fall or who would be affected. It is now clear that the way they are doing it is wrong and unjust and will penalise many of the hardest working but poorly paid people in our country.

On September 15th the House of Commons voted by 325 to 290 to give Chancellor George Osborne a mandate to go ahead with plans to cut £4.4bn from tax credits by cutting the earnings level above which tax credits are withdrawn from £6,420 to £3,850, starting in April 2016. It is estimated that three million families, including many in Ilford, will be on average £1,300 a year worse off.

Prime Minister David Cameron told his Party conference that the reduction would be offset by the introduction of the new "national living wage” next April. But the independent Resolution Foundation says 200,000 working families will fall below the government’s old child poverty line as a result. The government refuses to publish a full assessment of the cumulative impact of the tax credit and benefit reforms. The damage these cuts will cause is far greater than the government has let on, and is in no way offset by the 70p increase in the minimum wage to the misnamed "national living wage ".

The Conservative government is breaking its promise to help hardworking families. I predict serious anger when people experience the impact of these changes next year. With Labour colleagues I voted against these cuts to tax credits last month. Labour will make a fresh attempt to overturn these cuts at the committee stage of the welfare bill.

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