Calderdale People’s Assembly members and friends braved strong winds and driving rain on Saturday 7th November, to hold a mass lobby of the Calder Valley MP’s open surgery in Elland.
Their demand was for Craig Whittaker to protect low income Calderdale families from cuts to their tax credits.
Calderdale People’s Assembly asked Craig Whittaker to lobby George Osborne to fully reverse his plans to cut Tax Credits. These cuts will slash the incomes of nearly three million low and middle income working families across the country.
Mr Whittaker told his constituents he definitely would not do that, as he agreed with the “direction of travel” and the principle that the tax payer should not be subsidising low wages.
Osborne to review Tax Credit Cuts due to House of Lord’s amendment
But the Chancellor George Osborne now has to review his proposed Tax Credit cuts, as a result of a knock back to his proposals in the House of Lords at the end of October, when Peers passed a Labour amendment to the proposed Tax Credits Cuts legislation.
The Labour amendment means Tax Credits will be maintained for those who already receive them, but new claimants will still have to put up with the proposed Tax Credit Cuts rules.
This will likely hit younger people the hardest – a group already badly afflicted by Tory policy.
The House of Lords refused to pass a LibDem motion that would have killed the Tax Credits Cuts bill outright, with most Labour Peers abstaining.
MP supports removal of Child Tax Credit from people with more than two children
Calderdale People’s Assembly members asked our MP about the removal of Child Tax Credit from people with more than two children. This is a big issue in Calderdale, where one in five children live in poverty.
Mr Whittaker said he “totally agreed” with removing Child Tax Credit from people with more than two children – that people shouldn’t have more children than they can afford.
How does this sit with the government’s legal duties under the Child Poverty Act 2010, to reduce child poverty by 2020?
Calderdale People’s Assembly report that our MP’s view is, that if you are rich you can have as many children as you like and live in a big house, but if you are poor you can’t afford these things and should not expect the taxpayer to subsidise them.
After hearing this, Claire, who receives Tax Credits and works for a local charity, said:
“He just didn’t seem to understand that sometimes people with more than two children can fall on hard times or that not everyone is in full control of how many children they have. What if your second birth produces twins? What if you take in the child of a deceased relative?”
Minimum wage increase won’t make up for Tax Credit cuts
Calderdale People’s Assembly reports that a member of the public not associated with them came out of Whittaker’s surgery with the information that the Calder Valley MP, along with other West Yorkshire Tory MPs, has been actively lobbying George Osborne, to make sure that people on low incomes don’t suffer from tax credit cuts in the period before the minimum wage increase makes good their lost tax credit income.
Plain Speaker asked Craig Whittaker to comment on this, but he hasn’t.
If this report is true, the West Yorkshire MPs’ lobby of George Osborne is based on a false assumption. The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has pointed out that even after the minimum wage goes up, millions of families whose tax credits have been cut will still be hundreds of pounds a year worse off.
Calderdale Peoples Assembly say they will be back at future surgeries to keep up pressure on our MP.
Photo credits: All photos in this post, including the header, are by Roger O’Doherty and published under the terms of Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker’s Creative Commons licence