Working Tax Credits

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:23 pm on 30th November 2011.

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Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 4:23 pm, 30th November 2011

Let me reiterate, first, the incontrovertible point that we are taking more from bankers every year than the Labour party did in one year of operation. Furthermore, I must point this out and, I hope, lay the matter to rest: the distributional allowances published alongside the autumn statement yesterday clearly indicated that it is the top 10% of the income band that is contributing.

Let me turn briefly to a summary of what was announced yesterday and previously. The Chancellor said that we will uprate the disability elements of tax credits in line with prices, and increase the child element of the child tax credit by £135 in line with inflation too. We will not, however, uprate the other elements of the working tax credit this coming year. Hon. Members have highlighted the fact that, given the size of the uprating this year, we will no longer go ahead with the planned additional £110 rise in the child element over and above inflation.

I must make a further comment, which is that of course the Government believe that the welfare system must remain fair and affordable while protecting the most vulnerable. We must also note within the figures I have just given that by April 2012 the child tax credit will have increased by £390 since last May, and that is of course per child.

A number of reforms to tax credits were announced in the June Budget and the spending review. The point is that the previous Government spent more than £150 billion on tax credits since 2003. This was unsustainable in many ways, and I will give an example before moving on. Under the previous system tax credits were available to families earning up to £58,000. If households had an increase in income of up to £25,000 in the year then they could have earned up to £83,000 and still benefited from tax credits. Taking on board the principles raised by hon. Members, that means to me that we had to act in a situation that appeared to be very unfair, in that people in the top income decile were eligible for tax credits. That is unjustifiable, unfair and very unsustainable in the current economic climate.