We will be supporting the new clause—not because we are opposed to all welfare reform. Our voting record in this House and the fact that against the odds we have tried to drive through sensible welfare reform changes in Northern Ireland indicates that we do not take the blanket view that welfare reform is bad, full stop. Some of it is necessary, but some of it is wrong-headed, and this change is wrong-headed for a number of reasons.
First, I do not believe that the proposals will achieve what the Government want. We hear time and again—we have heard it today—that the Government want to make work pay and that those who go out every day to employment must have a reward for that and there must be an incentive. All the indications and assessments are that these proposals, because of their timing and their scale, will not make work pay. In fact, the OBR has said they will be a disincentive to work, because the rewards are being taken away from people but the mitigation will not be added quickly enough. Therefore, the objectives that the Government are setting out to achieve will not be achieved.
The second point is that in most cases we are not dealing with people who have a large buffer either of savings or additional income which can help them overcome the timing difficulty. We are talking about people on low wages and probably every penny that they earn goes on their living expenses. We have heard again today that as the tax credits come off, there will be tax cuts, additional childcare support and reductions in rent, and that all those things will mitigate the changes—and that on top of that there will be an increase in the national living wage. However, the tax credit cuts are coming in immediately, whereas the other things will be brought in over a period of time.