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Tax Credits

Part of Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 20th October 2015.

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Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes 5:45 pm, 20th October 2015

I will not. Tackling welfare spending is key to achieving that reduction, and we cannot tackle the country’s deficit and debt by leaving welfare spending as it is. The UK is currently home to 1% of the world’s population, yet it accounts for 7% of the world’s spending on welfare. That is clearly not sustainable. If we do not save £12 billion a year by reducing the welfare bill—including £4.3 billion from changes to tax credits—where will we find those savings? From the NHS budget? By cutting social care spending or reducing the education budget? Labour Members could not give one answer when asked how they would reduce the deficit. There is no easy answer—if there were, we would be doing it.

Currently, taxpayers—many of whom earn just above the tax credit limit—are subsidising employers who pay low wages, and that must end. It cannot be right that someone who gets up early, goes to work, works long hours and comes home late, does not earn enough to do without welfare in the form of tax credits. Instead of fighting to preserve tax credits, perhaps Labour Members should fight harder to increase wages.

I dispute many of the figures that have been distributed by opponents of these changes. If we look at the facts and take into account all the changes in the recent Budget—including the increase in free childcare, the freezing of fuel duty, VAT and national insurance, the increase in tax thresholds, and the reduction in social housing rents—a typical family will be about £2,400 better off by 2020. As we have heard, pay is already up by 3% this year, and more than 200 firms have committed to paying the living wage. Having come from a poor background and struggled through hard economic times, I firmly believe that the way out of poverty is through work—