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

Indeed, we need to incentivise people to go into the workplace. However, we have less money than we thought, and we have less money than any previous Government cared to highlight. We have to prioritise who we spend that money on. I would rather give it to people who have no other source of work—in other words, those on out-of-work benefits, rather than those on in-work benefits. That is a sensible principle.

To conclude, the Government have had to take urgent action to tackle what is unsustainable in broader economic terms as well as an unsustainable Welfare Reform Bill. Spending on tax credits has increased from £18 billion in 2003-04 to an estimated £30 billion last year, which is unsustainable and unfair, given the examples that I have mentioned. If we look at the cumulative impact on households of tax, tax credits and benefit reforms introduced both yesterday and before, the top income decile sees the largest reduction in income, both in cash terms and as a percentage of net income. I will take no lectures from the Opposition on believing in more spending, more borrowing and more debt, spent unsustainably and spent unfairly across the income range. I do not think that any working household will thank them for that.