Earlier this week there was a debate on tax credits in Parliament, where it was asked if the Government would act to reverse the decision about cuts to tax credits.
Many working families in Hartlepool will be affected by these changes.
There are 6,000 working families claiming tax credits – about 60 per cent of all families in the town. 8,300 children in Hartlepool live in families where tax credits are claimed – that’s about 65 per cent of all children in the town.
Earlier in the year I voted against the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill and the cuts contained within that piece of legislation.
In so doing, I also voted against the specific Labour Party position.
I did so because the Bill slashes assistance and support to those people who are working but who have a low income.
The House of Commons has confirmed that there is no help during the period of transition designed to ease the shock impact of the tax credits cut.
Even Tory MPs showed their unease about the matter, although none voted against the Government.
I’ve said before but it bears repeating, I believe work is vitally important.
It brings a wage into the house but also does a great deal more in terms of self-respect and a sense of pride.
However, there are structural problems with our economy that means that, sometimes, work doesn’t pay enough.
In that context, government tops up the low pay by means of tax credits.
By taking these tax credits off thousands of people in Hartlepool and millions of people up and down the country in April next year, and by ensuring that the minimum wage doesn’t increase to match this shortfall until 2020 will means that those working families will miss out.
I didn’t think that was acceptable earlier this year and I don’t think it is acceptable now. I don’t think the Government should be putting in place measures which makes life more difficult for working people on low incomes.
The Government defeated the motion by 317 votes to 295.
Yesterday, at Prime Minister Questions, David Cameron stated that he was “delighted” that the motion had been defeated.
To try to defend the Prime Minister for a moment, I can’t believe he actually “delights” in making life more miserable and harder for working people, but it does expose something which I do believe is genuine: a total lack of understanding or empathy for people in Hartlepool and all across the country who are trying to do the right thing, providing a good example to their children and going out to work to pay the bills.
This disregard and disrespect from the Government is very concerning and will mean that families on low incomes will suffer again.