Socialist Worker

Tories plot to snatch workers’ tax credits

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2459

Tory Chancellor George Osborne will announce even more attacks in his budget on 8 July

Tory Chancellor George Osborne will announce even more attacks in his budget on 8 July (Pic: Working World on Flickr)


The Tories are coming to snatch cash from low-paid workers. David Cameron this week hinted at a plan to raid tax credit benefits.

In a speech on Monday he ranted against the “merry go round” of benefits paid to people in work. 

This was seen as referring to working tax credits and child tax credits. 

Some 3.3 million families receive an average of £123.90 a week in tax credits—that’s one household in eight.

It’s the first hint of the Tories’ promised £12 billion welfare cuts. Chancellor George Osborne is set to reveal the full gory details in his “emergency” budget on 8 July.

Writing in the Sunday Times newspaper, Osborne and work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith claimed they were tackling a “dependency culture”. 

But the widespread need for in-work benefits shows how hollow the much-touted economic recovery has been for working class people.

Two thirds of people who found work last year took jobs paying less than the living wage.

The average worker has also lost £2,500 a year since 2010—though top bosses’ pay went up by 26 percent according to the TUC.

Gall

Cameron had the gall to make low pay part of his case for cuts. He argued, “We need to move from a low wage, high tax, high welfare society to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare society.” 

But the government is driving down wages with its public sector pay freeze and workfare schemes. 

Tax credit cuts would only force more people to choose between eating and heating their homes.

But this is risky for the Tories—because it is so vicious. It could undermine their attempt to use welfare cuts to pit those in work against disabled and unemployed people who have so far borne the brunt. 

These groups have lost so much  that even Duncan Smith admits he will struggle to cut more. 

Yet he is still trying, with a below inflation benefit freeze and a tightening of the welfare cap planned. 

Last week protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts demonstrated in defence of the Independent Living Fund benefit.  

This pays for assistance to people with severe disabilities. It is set to close next week after a long battle—putting the people who claim it at the mercy of cash-strapped councils.

Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham slammed the threat to cut tax credits. 

But Burnham and other Labour figures prepared the ground for the attack by playing along with the Tories’ scapegoating.

Osborne and Duncan Smith began their missive by smugly quoting Blairite former minister David Blunkett. He said paying in-work benefits was “crackers”.

Fortunately activists aren’t waiting for Labour. They’re planning protests around Britain on budget day and a day of action over benefits and housing on Saturday 25 July.


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