Conservatives pledge a ‘race to the bottom’ as Chancellor George Osborne announces a two-year freeze on working age benefits under a future Tory majority government.
Freezing working age benefits will not only hurt the unemployed, but also working families who rely upon in-work benefits and tax credits to top-up poverty wages. They claim it was a “difficult decision”, but attacking the poor is never difficult for a Tory.
The Tories relentless attack against the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, while their own MPs get a pay rise, shows their growing contempt for anyone who isn’t a millionaire or a Tory party donor.
Commenting on today’s announcement, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“In today’s low-pay Britain, in-work benefits are a lifeline for millions of families. Working families have already been hit by three-quarters of the total cuts the government has already made to welfare and now the plan is to put them in the frontline again.
“The Chancellor’s new cuts would hurt working families with children most of all, pegging their tax credits and housing support behind rising prices and rents. This is yet more chipping away at the social safety net working families pay into, putting them in greater danger of destitution if they become sick or lose their job.
“It tells you everything you need to know that George Osborne has unveiled more harsh cuts for working families on the same day as tax breaks for the pension pots of the richest one per cent.”
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:
“This is bad news for working parents struggling on low wages, already coping with rising living costs and previous benefit cuts. A couple both working full time on the minimum wage are nearly a fifth short of the money they need for basics; another freeze will make it a whole lot harder for them. For many of these families a higher income tax threshold will be of little help since what they gain in wages is largely clawed back from their tax credits. Two thirds of poor children have at least one parent working.
“Independent projections by the IFS make clear that cuts in the uprating of benefits will be the single biggest driver of the sharp rise in child poverty expected in the next few years. Today’s announcement would inevitably put more children in poverty and further questions claims the Government is on track to meet its 2020 child poverty targets.
“If housing benefit is included in the freeze, the gap between housing benefit and rents will widen further, leaving many families in a desperate struggle to afford decent housing. ”
But the Tories go further. Not only would they freeze working age benefits, they would also force vulnerable claimants, with addictions or social problems, to receive their benefit payments on pre-paid cards.
Bianca Todd of Left Unity said:
“Why don’t MPs get their expenses on pre-paid cards? After all, it’s Iain Duncan Smith himself who once claimed £39 for a hotel breakfast.
“MPs treat us like irresponsible children, but they are the ones who are on the take.
“This and the benefits freeze are just going to push people further into poverty, while the richest get even more tax cuts.”