Tag Archives: tax credits

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 | 44 Comments

Alex Cole-Hamilton: Family cap and rape clause have no place in a civilised society

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament debated the Conservative cuts to tax credit which means that only two children per family are covered.

Every Scottish Conservative MSP voted for it, with many robustly defending the policy. Their line seems to be, as the Conservative candidate at my local council hustings said last week, that this is a compassionate (that’s the word she actually used) exemption. They are also saying that the woman doesn’t have to fill it in, it’s a third party. Well, have a look at the form and imagine how you would feel if it applied to you. You have to write down the name of your child and sign a declaration that “I believe the non-consensual conception exception applies to my child.” How you can do that without your mind drifting back to the traumatic circumstances of that conception? You are also then required to take the form to a third party to get them to fill it in. You are going to have to relive that ordeal. You may never have told anyone about it before and be worried about whether you are going to be believed. If implementation of a policy requires this sort of trauma, then the policy itself is clearly wrong.

There were many fantastic speeches from across the Chamber, including moving personal testimonies sent to MSPs like Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale.

The Liberal Democrats were represented by Alex Cole-Hamilton, who condemned these policies – and pointed out that during the coalition years, we had put a stop to their introduction:

I pay tribute to Kez Dugdale and Sandra White for offering very moving personal testimonies, and I congratulate the Scottish Government on lodging the motion. I assure it of the support of the Liberal Democrats. We will support Kez Dugdale’s and Alison Johnstone’s amendments, as well.

Who can forget Theresa May’s inaugural words in her tenure as Prime Minister? In her Francis of Assisi moment on the steps of number 10, she said of families that rely on tax credits in particular:

“If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying a mortgage. You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school … I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

In the two-child tax credit cap and the rape clause that underpins it, we see the measure of that commitment made flesh. I am certain that those words have now turned to ash in the Prime Minister’s mouth.

There are days in the chamber when we are debating welfare reform and social security matters in which I rise to speak with some trepidation and a recognition that there were times when my party, through dint of the coalition, participated in decisions and reforms that were distasteful to us as Liberals, but were far less egregious than those that our partners originally proposed. Members rightly lose no time in reminding me of that in colourful interventions. That is fair enough, but the untold story of our days in coalition is what never made it to the statute book thanks to Liberal Democrat resistance: regional pay, which would penalise any workers outside the south-east of England, inheritance tax cuts for millionaires and enhanced powers for employers to sack staff without notice or recourse to a tribunal.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Liberal Democrats should campaign against benefits “rape clause”

George Osborne’s decision not to impose the cuts to tax credits may be welcome but in many cases is only putting off the agony. As research from the Resolution Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows, working families with children still stand to lose more than £1300 a year, more than £100 every month. Nick Clegg spelled this out when he was in Oldham campaigning for Jane Brophy this week:

He’s just delaying it by smuggling the cuts into Universal Credit. I think we played an important role and a leading role in firstly, identifying the problem and then opposing it unambiguously.

I wasn’t (surprised at the decision). But they’re doing half a beastly thing instead of a beastly thing.

Actually, it’s more of a beastly thing than that. The cap on the childcare element at 2 children remains and, with it, an issue which was first highlighted by SNP MP Alison Thewliss back in July. There is a rather sinister devil in the detail which has not been removed by the Autumn Statement, the so-called “rape clause.”

This says:

the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC will develop protections for women who have a third child as a result of rape or other exceptional circumstances

Someone sitting in an office in Whitehall has actually thought this, written it down and others have presumably thought it was practical enough to include. I actually despair.

So, how exactly is a woman supposed to prove that she has been raped, given that conviction rates are so low? Alison Thewliss has repeatedly questioned the Chancellor on how exactly this will be implemented, most recently after the Autumn Statement on Wednesday. Osborne replied:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

Let’s get some national campaigns going on issues the voters care about

Our Party is all about campaigning. It is what saved the old Liberal Party from extinction and what sustains us in difficult times. I know local parties up and down the country are running campaigns on many different issues, but we lack some important national ones.
What about Europe I hear you say, or the Human Rights Act?

Well, yes, the EU and human rights are important issues and we do have to campaign for them, but they are not high on people’s list of concerns.

Apart from Europe, we have individual initiatives launched by the leader or an MP, which is great. I am thinking in particular of Tim Farron’s prioritising of housing, and Norman Lamb on social care. However we need that little bit extra, something that really captures attention. What I am thinking of are issues where we can get out amongst the voters with a petition and potentially get lots of signature on equally important areas of policy that emphasise our social liberalism.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

LibLink: Tim Farron Why we must stop the Tories hitting the most vulnerable

Tim Farron has shown great self discipline. In an article for the Mirror about this week’s tax credits showdown in the Lords, he turns his fire, rightly, on the Tories. He only slips in one sly dig at Labour:

Sadly Labour wouldn’t support our move to scrap the cuts altogether, but we joined with them to force a delay.

It isn’t ideal, but it is a chance to tell the government it should improve its plans.

If Labour wouldn’t support the move when they are led by a proper leftie, you wonder if they ever would.

Tim looks at why these tax credit cuts are so bad:

These cuts to tax credits hit people exclusively on low pay .

People who are doing the right thing- who are working- but in low paid work.

People who find themselves having to plan their spending carefully- who get to the end of the month and are having to watch where every penny goes.

These are simply the wrong people for the Conservatives to be taking money from.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Farron on Tax Credits vote: Osborne must go back to the drawing board

Commenting on the votes in the House of Lords tonight which resulted in two Government defeats on tax credits, Tim Farron said:

The Government has been forced into an embarrassing climb down. George Osborne must now go back to the drawing board and come back with plans to balance the books that don’t simply attack working families who are already struggling to get by.

We have sent a clear signal to the Tories that the British people will not accept this scale of attack on the vital support they need.

Tonight’s vote gives people hope, but the threat still looms large.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 42 Comments

Lib Dems to table “fatal motion” to halt planned cuts to tax credits

The Lib Dem team in the House of Lords has announced that it will table a so-called “fatal motion” to the government’s proposed tax credit reductions.

Zahida Manzoor, our work and pensions spokesperson, will table the motion, which would decline to approve the regulations. If passed, the government will have to come up with a revised version of its proposals.

The motion is additional to a motion by Labour peer, Baroness Hollis of Heigham, which would decline to approve the Tax Credit cut unless the Government puts in place transitional measures.

Posted in News | 42 Comments

Lib Dem Lords will try and kill off Tory tax credit cuts as Farron decries Osborne’s “Poll Tax”

Cameron Osborne Tax Credit Poll TaxGeorge Osborne could be told to think again on tax credits by the House of Lords next week if a “regret motion” co-sponsored by Lib Dem peer Archy Kirkwood is successful.

Party leader Tim Farron has asked all Lib Dem peers to support it, making a government defeat possible.According to the Guardian, though, some Labour peers might get the collywobbles about challenging a government’s financial bill. According to the Guardian:

By custom and practice, the peers do not challenge financial measures, but Farron has been arguing that the specific tax credits measure was not in the Conservative party manifesto and was even specifically denied by David Cameron in a leaders’ TV election debate, after the Guardian revealed a document leaked by the Lib Dems showing that the government had been considering cuts to tax credits.

This has also attracted coverage in the Express and Star, Sky News and the Evening Standard.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 23 Comments

LibLink: Zahida Manzoor: The Government’s changes to tax credits will have a severe impact on the lives of millions

In the Huffington Post this week, Lib Dem Work and Pensions spokesperson Zahida Manzoor wrote of the party’s opposition to the Government’s severe cuts to tax credits for the lowest paid.

The Tax Credit system is hugely complicated, made up of various different ‘payment thresholds’ and so-called ‘disregards’. But ultimately the key aspect of the system is the ‘taper rate’ – that means how much is taken away in Tax Credits for every additional pound you earn.

This taper rate is important, because when someone is making the decision about whether to take on more hours, particularly if they have children, then money matters. If it turns out you’re only going to keep a few pence in the pound by taking on the extra work it may not be worthwhile, particularly if you need to pay for expensive additional childcare in order to cover the increased time spent away from home.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

LibLink: Nick Clegg: George Osborne’s Living Wage is a trick and workers have been betrayed

Very, very strong words from Nick Clegg this lunchtime in an article on the Standard. He talks about how the Liberal Democrats’ carefully constructed initiatives to help people into work and eliminate the poverty trap have been swept away by George Osborne.

He starts by outlining why he thinks work is so important:

Work is not just an economic necessity. It brings identity and self-reliance. It is a spur to ingenuity and a catalyst for growth. Work demands the learning of new skills. It sustains communities and nourishes families. Without work, society crumbles.

He goes on to say what the Liberal Democrats did to help people into work:

That is why seven years ago — shortly after I became leader of the Liberal Democrats — the party started arguing in favour of lifting the income tax personal allowance. It seemed a little technical at the time — harder to explain than headline-grabbing reductions in tax rates — but the aim was simple enough: working taxpayers, especially those on low pay, should keep more of the money they earn as an incentive to work.

It seemed indefensible at the time that the taxman was taking money off you the moment you earned £6,035. The rest, as they say, is history: the aim of lifting the tax allowance to £10,000 and beyond became the principal tax reform of the Coalition. It took millions of people on low pay out of paying income tax and proved to be so popular that the Conservatives now claim it was their idea all along.

He said he thought that that legacy of the coalition years would be safe, but was horrified at the budget:

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 28 Comments

The Independent View: Taxing decisions – the debate between tax credits and tax allowances

As debate ahead of the Budget rages on about the merits of tax allowances and tax credits, a CentreForum report published this week provides new, detailed analysis of both.

The media has focused on the plight of the ‘squeezed middle’, Ed Miliband wants to help the “squeezed middle” and Nick Clegg is concerned for “alarm clock Britain”. But ‘Taxing decisions: the debate between tax credits and personal allowances’ uses modelling to illustrate the implications of tax allowances more rigorously and objectively than the day-to-day analysis of Fleet Street or Westminster.

The report’s authors, Thomas Brooks and Chris Nicholson of CentreForum, and …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

PMQs: Jo Swinson on the role of women in Aghanistan

Liberal Democrat questions first this week:

Jo Swinson asked:

Ten years on from the military intervention, more than 3 million girls in Afghanistan are now in school. With the Bonn conference on Monday, will the Prime Minister send a clear message that the rights of those girls should not be traded away in a false choice between women’s rights and security? The evidence shows that women’s involvement in post-conflict resolution is essential for stability.

The Prime Minister agreed:

All those of us who have been to Afghanistan and met women MPs and other leaders in that country who want to stand up for women’s

Posted in PMQs | Also tagged , , , , and | 1 Comment

The Saturday Debate: Equality of opportunity just isn’t enough

Here’s your starter for ten as we experiment with a new Saturday slot posing a view for debate:

Belief in equality is, as the preamble to the Lib Dems’ constitutions states, one of the fundamental values of the party. But, as with all values, equality can mean different things to different people.

There has long been tension between liberals who believe the role of government is to aim for equality of opportunity for everyone, and liberals who believe government must promote equality of outcomes. The former will tend to stress the importance of education as the chief means by which individuals …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 63 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 17 September 2009

Good morning. Today we remember the deaths of Hildegard von Bingen, and, centuries later, Laura Ashley; and today’s birthday girl is Tessa Jowell.

Two big stories

A surprising number of newspapers seem to be leading with a story about how soon, we will all have the right to register with any GP we choose. I struggle to see why that’s made so many front pages.

Instead, my picks are the Independent’s story about racism in the US, with President Carter weighing in on opposition to President Obama’s current policy platform:

After lurking near the surface of political discourse in America

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 4 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn King 19th Aug - 9:39pm
    The Lib Dems owe their resurgence to the simple clear message: Stop Brexit. Do you want to be like Jeremy Corbyn who shies away from...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 19th Aug - 9:20pm
    Donald Trump has confirmed that he wants to buy Greenland. In his view he may be trying to make comparisons with some of the great...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 19th Aug - 9:16pm
    Peter Watson is right. As Henry Ford famously said, his customers could have their Model T in any colour they liked “as long as it...
  • User AvatarTCO 19th Aug - 8:59pm
    @Andy - you're making the mistake of viewing Labour as a "progressive" party (whatever that means - usually it means "Labour-dominated" when appended to the...
  • User AvatarDavid Garlick 19th Aug - 8:58pm
    The problem is that some, most, MP's cant see further than the end of their nose, or their deselection, or electoral loss. It is understandable...
  • User AvatarMartin 19th Aug - 8:46pm
    One point I would make to Mack is I don't know how old you are but I am old enough to remember real shortages in...
Sat 24th Aug 2019
Thu 29th Aug 2019
Mon 9th Sep 2019