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The hon. Lady has made a powerful speech. I will not drag out my comments on a painful and frankly despicable assault on our society. Much has been said about tax credits and I would like to give a bit of a Scottish flavour to the debate.
Since the election campaign and throughout this Parliament, the SNP has opposed the Bill in its entirety and the cuts to child tax credits in particular. It is important to highlight the findings of the IFS, that it was “arithmetically impossible” for families to do better with the limited increase in the living wage. We are talking about an attack on low-income families and vulnerable working families. In Scotland more than 500,000 children live in families that rely on tax credits to make ends meet; 350,000 of those children will feel the impact of the cuts as much needed tax credits are stripped away from more than 200,000 low-income families.
The austerity measures proposed by the Conservative Government are disproportionately harming the poorest and most vulnerable households while giving tax breaks to the better-off, thus increasing inequality, not closing the gap. Much has been said about families claiming benefits and families in work as if they were different people, different sections of society, but the reality is that the majority of people who will be affected by the provisions of the Bill are families in work.
The changes are regressive; they take proportionately more from low-income households and give to the richer ones. Planned cuts to tax credits increase the burden on the working poor and the children living in such households. The IFS has found that 63% of children living in poverty are in working households—I repeat: 63% of children living in poverty are in working households. The increase in the minimum wage for people aged 25 and over, which has been wrongly branded a living wage, is nowhere near enough to offset the cuts. The changes run contrary to the Government’s own policy of making work pay and they weaken the incentives to work, because the impact of cuts will fall disproportionately on low-income working families. This is not war on poverty; this is war on the poor.