Some 850,000 families will see their income slashed from today (Friday) as tax credits are torn from low paid workers.
The Tory attack will leave 212,000 families who earn less than £17,000 worse off by £3,870 a year, unless they increase their working week by eight hours.
The new plan will require working couples to work 24 hours a week between them, with one working a minimum of 16 hours, to qualify for tax credits. The previous limit was a combined working week of 16 hours.
This is at a time of pay cuts, rising prices and increased pension contributions. And many families already suffer from the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance for students in further education and the freeze in child benefit payments.
Andy is a health worker in London. From today he will see his family’s monthly income reduced by £38 as his tax credits are removed.
“Last year we got credits of £200 a month, but half a year ago that was dropped to £38, and now it’s all gone,” Andy told Socialist Worker.
“Our circumstances haven’t changed, but my money has. I’m hit by the public sector pay freeze and our rent’s just gone up too. The squeeze is really on.
“My partner is a part time clerical worker. She’d prefer to be full time because we have a young child and childcare is expensive.”
The Tories and their Lib Dem supporters pretend that the new arrangements are “fair”. They argue that an increase in personal tax allowance will save working families money.
But these savings, which add up to several hundred pounds, are quickly swallowed up by the tax credit changes.
Today’s changes are just the latest step in the Tory project to shift wealth away from the poorest and into the pockets of the rich.