Peter Aldous calls on the Government to ensure the removal of working tax credits does not punitively hit those on low wages

20th October 2015

Peter Aldous backs the Government’s long-term objectives of supporting working families through encouraging earnings growth and providing support through the tax system, rather than providing support through the benefits system. However, he calls on the Government to ensure that the removal of working tax credits does not indiscriminately and punitively hit those on low wages over the next four years as parts of the country are yet to see the improved economic outlook and employment opportunities available in London and the south-east.

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): The Government are pursuing the right strategic approach by moving from supporting working families through the benefit system to encouraging earnings growth and providing support through the tax system, but they need to think carefully about how they implement the policy to ensure that working families on low wages are not hit hard and unfairly. I urge them to address these worries before the changes to working tax credits come into effect next April.
 
The Government are doing the right thing by putting in place policies that in the long term will enable us to move to a high-skills, high-wage and low-welfare economy that is not concentrated in one place—London and the south-east—but offers opportunities for all across the country. The decline which these policies will address has taken place in many parts of the country, including my constituency of Waveney, over the past 30 or 40 years. They will not work overnight. They will need time and they might need to be refocused, redesigned and rebooted.
 
In the short term, there is a need for other policy initiatives to ensure that the removal of working tax credits does not indiscriminately and punitively hit those on low wages. My concern is that over the next four years the welcome initiatives that have been made so far will not on their own be enough to prevent working families on low incomes from facing significant reductions in income that could cause real hardship. They are the hard-working families doing the right thing that we can all say we support.
 
Since 2010, the coalition Government’s and this Government’s stewardship of the economy has helped to create a record number of jobs and has stimulated a genuine and seemingly sustainable growth in wages. That has improved the economic outlook and will enable people to increase the hours they work and move on to better paid jobs. However, such opportunities are not available evenly across the country; they are in some places, but not in others. The Government must do more to support working families as they pursue this right but difficult policy. Phasing in a reduction in employee national insurance contributions should be considered, as should changes to universal credit. Universal credit has the advantage of its simplicity, but it could be made more flexible.
 
The Government are doing the right thing, but this policy must be introduced with more support for those who are also doing the right thing and looking to work more. That is something that I, as a one nation Conservative, ask the Government to do.
 
4.55 pm
 

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