George Osborne has announced a new wave of cuts to tax credits, to be implemented in April 2016.
The income threshold for Working Tax Credits, currently £6,420, will be cut to £3,850 per year. Those earning over £3,850 will see their payments considerably reduced.
The income threshold for those claiming Child Tax Credits will go down from £16,105 to £12,125. Tax credits will also taper at a much faster rate. For every £1 over the income threshold individuals earn, they will lose 48p of their tax credits, up from 41p.
In addition, Child Tax Credits will be limited to two children; tax credits will be frozen for the duration of the parliament.
3.3 million families, the vast majority of them with children, stand to lose on average £1,300 in the first year alone, and most likely increasingly more each year. This is on top of plans to cut tax credits and housing benefit for under 25s, and for a four-year ban on migrants claiming benefits with the aim of stemming migration from the EU into Britain.
Tax credits are designed to top up wages when individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet: to help pay rising rent and bills, buy clothes and other necessities. They are a life-line which have become more important following the onslaught from the Tories over the last five years.
Osborne’s strategy has been a well-calculated. He has masterminded moves to co-opt the language of Labour, calling the Tories the “workers party” and advocating his national “living wage” (which stands considerably below the actual Living Wage).
He has proudly announced that unemployment has decreased under the Conservative government, despite his figures being based on people being increasingly employed in precarious, zero-hours, low-waged, part-time work.
Osborne has also been at a loud proponent of the Tory campaign to scapegoat and vilify anyone who is out of work, unable to work, or dependent on benefits.
Cutting in-work benefits doesn’t chime quite so neatly with the “strivers” and “skivers” narrative, but it is another battleground for all of us who are struggling in this age of austerity.
A struggle against cuts to tax credits, should got hand-in-hand with grassroots campaigns against the regressive Trade Union Bill, workplace struggles for higher wages, better contracts and job security, campaigns against cuts to all welfare support, and struggles for free movement across borders and equal citizenship for all who live in Britain.