by Sandra Webster
The vote on Tax Credits last night should shame all who voted for or abstained on the government’s proposal. We expect no less from this Tory government, yet another attack on the poor. This Orwellian operation will directly affect the “hard working families” politicians are keen to spin themselves as supporting. The Tories say they believe work should pay but their actions will force many families into even greater poverty.
It is estimated that 3.2 million people will be affected, with an average loss of income of £1,350 per year. These are not high wage earners. The Institute of Fiscal Studies estimate that a family earning £7,000 a year with two or more children will see a cut of £1,724. The threshold for tax credits have also been changed. The entitlement only begins now when you earn more than £6,420; which is a massive leap from the current £3,850. This will have a huge impact on those working part-time. The maximum threshold has been reduced from £16, 105 to £12,125. For every pound above the threshold 48p will now be taken instead of 41p.
This is making work pay? I fear for those currently not in work who will see their weekly income plummet.
The Tory ideal society is a low taxation, low social security, low wages one yet these changes will still impact on those receiving the new so called “living” wage. We should be campaigning for a level of income for all that allows for a decent standard of living for all of us not just the ruling elite who view poverty as an individual’s failure rather than seeing how poverty has become an industry for their privileged friends. Mhari Black tweeted today during Prime Minister’s Questions that the Tories were “sniggering” when Corbyn read out the names of individual’s whose concerns he raised today. The levels of poverty which require having to depend on a food bank when in work is deeply unfunny to me.
Welcome to the modern United Kingdom! Where more children and single people will be forced into poverty. Where zero hour contracts make the entitlement of tax credits difficult to administer. Even many of the civil servants administering the changes will be affected. Despite Cameron’s promise to protect the most vulnerable, contact a family a major charity raised their concerns about the impact on families with disabled children who can only work around their children’s care needs if at all. Cameron’s promise to protect the most vulnerable is unravelling before our eyes.
Shame on those who voted for this. Shame on the Labour MPs who were paired and voted for it. A pat on the back for Westminster democracy, a good subsidised meal and drink while condemning 3.2 million people to further poverty. It is not good enough. I hope the Scottish Government will make the most of their devolved powers to change this. Everyone deserves better, the people of Scotland deserve better. Saying you can’t change Westminster policy is not good enough. It is also sad to think about the monstrous amount that is spent on Trident which makes the cuts the government will make miniscule in comparison.
A year ago – we were on the cusp of grasping our independence. We were dreaming of a different Scotland, a more equal society and the people of Scotland still want that. Every parent wants the best for their children but we on the left want the best for everyone’s children and we should. It is time to protest, get angry and empower individuals and groups because we all know someone who will be affected; it may be our own family. This is a societal issue where the trade unions, the left and grassroots campaigners get the message out.
We want a society that looks after us all not one that means a decrease in tax if it means others will have to endure poverty. The reductions in tax credits are just another stepping stone for Tory ideology of the kind of society that suits their self interests. It is our responsibility to make society a better place for all of us. That is why we are in the Scottish Socialist Party.
Sandra Webster is the national co-spokesperson of the Scottish Socialist Party. She lives in Paisley, and is a mother and carer for two boys with autism.