After the defeat, the threats: Osborne bites back over tax credits

Humiliated: George Osborne tried argument and threats but the Lords ignored him [Image: Corbis].

Humiliated: George Osborne tried argument and threats but the Lords ignored him [Image: Corbis].

First, the climbdown: After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Lords, George Osborne has told us all that he meant it when he said he would listen, and now he’s going to offer help to people who will suffer from the loss of income represented by his tax credit cuts.

That’s right, he reckons he can achieve the savings he wants, and offer help to his victims. He’ll set out the ways and means in his Autumn Statement in December. Why didn’t he offer this in the first place?

Then, the counterattack: Osborne also said that the government’s defeat by the Lords means a constitutional issue has arisen, and he will address that alongside David Cameron. What he means is: He didn’t have his way, this has got him all upset, so now he wants the people who upset him to be upset too.

Presumably, this is exactly what people mean when they talk about the “politics of the playground”.

He left the threat hanging – no specifics – but already commentators are suggesting that any minor Tories who thought they might get a chance to wear ermine are set for disappointment.

Here’s Osborne’s comment: “Tonight unelected Labour and Liberal lords have defeated a financial matter passed by the elected House of Commons and David Cameron and I are clear that this raises constitutional issues that need to be dealt with.

“However, it has happened and now we must address the consequences of that. I said I would listen and that is precisely what I intend to do. I believe we can achieve the same goal of reforming tax credits, saving the money we need to save to secure our economy, while at the same time helping in the transition. That is what I intend to do at the autumn statement. I’m determined to deliver that lower welfare, higher wage economy that we were elected to deliver and that the British people want to see.”

It’s handy that he raises a point about the election there…

The Conservative Government was elected after David Cameron twice promised – on television – that tax credits would not be cut. While it is certainly true, as Baroness Stowell stated, that social security cuts totalling £12 billion were mooted prior to the election, the Conservative Party was careful never to admit where they planned to wield the axe. No mention was made of tax credit cuts in the Conservative manifesto.

So the Lords rejected a measure the government had no mandate to pursue, about which the Prime Minister had, intentionally and with malice aforethought, deceived the public.

Isn’t it the Conservative Government that has acted unconstitutionally?

Going into it all a bit deeper, Osborne’s claims fall flat. The Lords votes might have been questionable if they had been blocking a manifesto commitment, but they weren’t; if they did not normally block secondary legislation, but they have; or if they were amending a budget measure, but they weren’t. The government could have put tax credits into their Finance Bill but chose not to.

There is, however, reason for the Lords to be ashamed.

All this fuss over a tax credit cut of £1,300 for three million families, and the action that the Lords have taken, serves as another slap in the face to people on long-term sickness or disability benefits who have been subjected to cuts in the amount of benefit they receive, changes to the assessment system in an attempt to claim that they are “malingerers” who are “faking it”, sanctions and unfair decisions that have led to far greater loss of income and even – in more cases than have yet been mentioned – loss of life.

Where was all the outrage when changes to their benefits were passing through the House of Lords?

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


16 thoughts on “After the defeat, the threats: Osborne bites back over tax credits

  1. Mr.Angry

    You raise some very good points in this article which does raise some serious questions about the alleged scroungers / malingerers. Everything surrounding Tory policies are toxic and distorted.

  2. AndyH

    Baroness Meacher: “According to the Library just over two fatal and three non-fatal Motions were voted on in each year between 1999 and 2012, resulting in 17 defeats. There is nothing odd or unconstitutional about this Motion. According to the Clerk’s office there is no reason why we should not table a delaying amendment.”

    Suck on that Osborne!

  3. marcusdemowbray

    I agree that it is shameful that cuts and sanctions to disabled and job seekers were implemented easily. However, I feel that Tax Credit Cuts were the straw which broke the camel’s back. Everyone has now seen how the Tories use any and every trick possible to have their way, including wiping people off the electoral roll by bringing forward changes without any consultation or announcement.

  4. Jim Round

    “Where was all the outrage when changes to their benefits were passing through the House of Lords?”
    Thought that was obvious.

  5. A-Brightfuture

    Meanwhile back in the DWP, Mr. Smiff combusts himself at the thought of all those millions who will not be transferred to UC for the foreseeable future.

  6. Spoonydoc

    I take it the 30% cut to the WRAG will stand? As you point out, no fervent, indignant and urgent action to help future disabled people on ESA then?

  7. Dez

    Totally agree the covert attack on the disabled should have been higher on the Lords, and the Commons agenda, despite the larger numbers touched by Herr Smiths attacks.
    The disabled population group just do not seem to have that stronger or more sympathetic publicity voice that the tax credit lobby has. Maybe the disabled are regarded as the weaker voting threat. Unlike the tax credit en masse attack the Smith disabled attack is being carried out by attrition with only the odd death or newsworthy hardship issue hitting the press therefore missing out on high visibility to the nasty underhand situation that is going on.

  8. Nick

    if the lords did not vote this down it would be the children that would suffer the backlash from their parents

    the stress in the home would be far greater and all that would happen is the children in the family would like they do now and that’s to see the parents row and then divorce at best or give the children a good beating at worse leaving untold lifelong heartache along the way

    Osborne could never see this where as people like myself always see the full picture and always have done

    and yes that is never good to live in isolation knowing on where Cameron is leading us but at least i know albeit i cant get get out of it and that’s where most people in life lie

  9. Michael Broadhurst

    the Lords have shown they are more humane and compassionate about the tax credits cuts than the govt and are to be praised IMO.
    whilst i also agree about sanctions been imposed unfairly as i have said elsewhere in
    vox political,the DWP should be the next target.
    the Lords have done the right thing in this instance,and we should have some measures
    available to stop govt excesses,especially with this govt which is trying to implement a
    dictatorship and needs stopping.
    the govt’s duty should be to look after all of its citizens,and not just its rich pals as this
    govt is doing.
    this govt’s plans are getting us into a worse mess with ill thought out plans,which started with Thatcher,and subsequent decades of “not fit for use ” governments.
    this is due to career polititians who know nothing about everyday life that ordinary
    people experience on a day to day basis.

  10. Joan Edington

    Don’t celebrate too soon. The fantastic Labour win was not all it first sounded. This is from WoS, which I know you hate, Mike, but can be checked easily.

    The Labour Party Baroness Hollis of Heigham motion called for the Tories to prepare “a scheme for full transitional protection for a minimum of three years” of those hit by tax credit cuts.

    When asked how much this will cost, she explained: “The savings would come to government automatically by the rise in the living wage of which three-quarters of a billion each and every year accrues back to the government. “Secondly by the fact that new claimants to tax credits are not covered by our amendment. And third because the National Audit Office says that by 2019 over 90 per cent of those on tax credits will be on universal credit where they will have their cuts.

    So over the term of the parliament, the government will have matching savings which probably exceed the very cuts the government demands.”


    – Anyone who becomes eligible for tax credits from now on will suffer the cuts immediately, without the three-year “protection”.

    – Anyone already on tax credits will still suffer the cuts, but they’ll pay them through reductions in Universal Credit rather than tax credits.

    – The total final amount of cuts will actually be HIGHER than those planned by the Conservatives.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Why suggest the total final amount of cuts will be higher than those planned by the Conservatives? ALL the cuts are planned by the Conservatives.
      All she is saying is that her amendment protects current tax credits claimants from what the Tories are doing now – which was all it was ever going to be able to do.
      She couldn’t protect new claimants because the difference between this statutory instrument and others approved in the past is that it included current claimants as well as new claimants. Look at ESA for people in the work-related activity group: The cut in benefit that levels it with JSA only comes in for new claimants.

      I think your website has been a little too keen to attack Labour there (quelle surprise).

  11. Joan Edington

    I suggested the total would probably be higher because that is what she said. I am not a font of fiscal knowledge. I was merely pointing out that this is not quite the “defeat” that everyone seems to be celebrating, and could merely be a blip in Osborne’s scheming. I am also not the Labour-hater you infer, only of the actions of certain party MPs/MSPs. I voted Labour for many years, mainly prompted by Thatcher, but became disillusioned with their lack of opposition to the coalition.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It IS a defeat because he wanted to bring in these cuts immediately, and now he can’t.
      While you may not be a Labour-hater, I was referring to the website you quoted, where the Party is certainly not held in fond regard!

  12. mili68

    Tweeted @melissacade68

    I’ve made the exact same point myself a number of times over the last few days; I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with and fought all the way on the Tax Credit Cut Issue. But I wonder time & time again how many, if any, of those people fought for the likes of myself and 1000’s others of sick and disabled people when our benefits are being cued time and time again.

  13. Phil Lee

    I don’t know why the arithmetically challenged Gideon can’t understand that if wages rise, he will get the savings in working tax credit without changing any rules at all.
    How incredibly stupid he must be – I could have worked that one out when I was still in primary school!
    If he isn’t that stupid, the only reason for his proposals is to attack the working poor out of pure vindictiveness.
    I reckon everyone should report the tory party to the authorities for the child abuse they are causing – I bet there would be quite a few social workers very keen to crawl all over every aspect of their private lives, to find out what it is they have against children (who are, along with the disabled, disproportionally impacted by their doctrine), and how many years they should serve for it.

Comments are closed.