Author Archives: Iain Porter

In defence of tax credits: We must be the clear anti-poverty party

I was horrified at the proposal, contained in George Kendall’s recent article that we cut tax credits to fund lifelong learning accounts. (I assume George was also referring to Universal Credit, the successor to tax credits, and I speak of them here interchangeably.)

Like George, I’ve canvassed on council estates. I, however, recount emotional conversations with families for whom tax credits are the saviour that stands between them and impoverishment.

I remember the anguish in a mother’s voice, juggling her hospital job with caring for her two young sons, as she talked of how the Tory’s tax credit cuts could push her over the edge. How would she pay the heating bill? Would she have to take on more debt to buy her son’s new school shoes?

With us leading the battle against Osborne’s tax credit cuts at the time, it was a vote for us on the doorstep that day, and a voter I was proud we were fighting for.

Poverty during childhood causes long-term damage seen in poorer educational, health and employment outcomes. Families cannot invest properly in their children’s futures if they live in constant fear of eviction or are forced to use food banks.

But families with children are particularly badly hit by Universal Credit cuts, like the Tory’s broader welfare cuts since 2015. A useful ‘poverty calculator‘ by The Children’s Society demonstrates just how much benefit levels have fallen short of the poverty line.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that around a million more children will be in poverty by the end of this decade, with almost half this increase attributable to direct tax and benefit changes since 2015. That’s a 25% increase in child poverty, a large part of which is down to Universal Credit cuts. Failing to reverse these cuts, or cutting them further, would be disastrous for a party whose leader has just staked our claim to be the party to tackle inequality.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 44 Comments
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