Tax credit cuts far removed from one-nation Conservatism

27th Nov 2015

The Tories advertise themselves as a one-nation party but for which nation and whose advantage. It was started as a movement in the early 1950s appalled by what had happened to the vulnerable in society under extreme free market policies.

It represented MPs who seemed to care but there has been little sign of this under the current Government. This is shown particularly in imposing austerity measures, which fall disproportionately on the most deprived in the society.

The British public was misled by the Conservatives during the elections when Prime Minister, David Cameron, said they will not cut tax credits.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, set about the cuts to the tax credits brought in by Labour over a decade ago as a means tested benefit that include providing income subsidies to the lowest paid.
The fallout of these cuts would be to 3.3 million families mostly with children.

Under the country’s unique democracy, it is often so difficult to bring the Government to account with the executive uniquely embedded in the legislative and so it proved with the House of Commons passing the draconian plans. But Osborne did not get it all his own way, facing critics including inside his own party as well as well from the Works and Pensions Committee that condemned the proposals and urged him to consider a pause to undertake a fundamental rethink of his priorities in reforming the welfare state.
It was the House of Lords however, usually the bastion of conservatism, that caused the biggest blow, forcing the Chancellor to revise the £4.4 billion tax credit cuts.

The upper chamber may be unelected but like it or not it is part of the British political system and the only revising authority outside the Commons. It was with some irony that this veto by the Lords led to protests from the Government crying wolf and threats to abolish the Lords when it has always largely been the Tories that have refused to reform the institution.

Rising bills and cuts are already having a disproportionate effect on the poorest people, among whom number many Muslims. The situation is expected to become much worse by Osborne threatening to freeze working age benefits for two years from next year that will affect half of the country’s 10m families.
Tax credits for millions remain a lifeline to supplement salaries paid below a living wage. Whatever valid criticism there may be of the benefits, their reduction only makes Britain even less egalitarian. It seems far removed from one-nation Conservatism.

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