I DON’T need to tell any of my constituents that times are tough just now.
In Wirral, there are tens of thousands of people who work hard for a living, but nonetheless rely on tax credits to help make ends meet until payday.
In fact, over 23,000 families working families receive tax credits in our borough, and over 4000 in my constituency.
So when you hear on the news that the Government say they need to cut ‘benefits’, it’s important to remember that two-thirds of people hit by the Government’s cuts to tax credits and benefits are in work.
That’s why I don’t like to hear George Osborne and David Cameron trying to divide the country by claiming that their welfare policies are targeting the work-shy and benefit ‘scroungers’. It’s actually those already in work who will also lose out.
But their attempt to play politics has backfired. Research by The Children’s Society has found that amongst those who will be hit by the benefit cut are 300,000 nurses, 40,000 soldiers and 150,000 teachers. At the same time as slashing the tax credits of those on low and middle incomes, the Government have given a tax cut to millionaires, with the very wealthiest seeing their taxes fall.
The very best way to reduce the cost to the public purse of out-of-work benefits is to help people get a job. It will help no one if we punish people who are already doing the right thing by working but are struggling to make ends meet. Especially at a time when the Government cuts to our local authority are already making many in work feel vulnerable.
In addition, it’s also absolutely right that my Labour colleagues have announced a compulsory jobs guarantee for people who are long-term unemployed. The guarantee means that every adult who’s been out of work for two years would be offered a job. And they would have to take it or lose their benefits. Most people I meet want to work and the vast majority of the long-term unemployed would welcome the opportunity to return to the labour market. And the Government has a responsibility to make sure they can.