What makes it worse is the insufferable smugness of their attitude – the “fooled you again” smirk on George Osborne’s face.
If the Tories fooled the general public over tax credits, it’s because the media – and Opposition politicians – failed to highlight the legerdemain.
Did the Independent (for example) headline any stories last October with Osborne defeated over tax credit cuts (apart from the £1 billion he’ll have due to the income disregard change)? Not to This Writer’s knowledge.
We found out last month, after Labour, the SNP, all the other opposition parties, and the Upper House all let it pass unchallenged.
That’s not good enough.
Tomorrow (March 16), George Osborne will make his Budget statement.
He is certain to try to slip more such tricks past us; having succeeded once, he’ll feel confident he can pull the same trick again.
Let’s make sure he can’t.
And that means all of us – not just Opposition MPs and national-press journalists (most of whom are now Tory employees anyway), but also all the political bloggers and even concerned citizens, if you think you’ve found something nobody else has seen.
Let’s all get busy and dig out the devils in the details.
MPs have voted to make £1 billion of cuts to tax credits, without holding a parliamentary debate on the subject.
George Osborne said in his autumn statement that he had cancelled cuts to the in-work benefits – but a little-noticed cut to the so-called “income disregard” was quietly left in place.
The change reduces the amount a claimant’s income can increase in a year before their claim is reassessed – from £5,000 to £2,500.
Any low-income worker who earns more than they had expected in a year over the threshold is forced to pay back some or all of their tax credits.
Labour says the £1 billion cuts will make 800,000 more people on low incomes poorer.
MPs voted by 272 to 228 to pass the cuts, with most Labour MPs against and most Conservatives in favour.
The cut was brought through Parliament as a statutory instrument meaning it does not have to go through all the stages of debate – a favourite tactic of the current Government.
While MPs were not allowed to debate the subject this evening, Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said last month that the Tories did one thing in public and another in private.
“It’s completely shameful when you consider that 800,000 working people, almost the equivalent of a city the size of Leeds, face losing £300 a week when the Tories are cutting taxes for a wealthy few,” he said.
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