Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects

There are warnings today that 424,000 adults and 470,000 children are at risk of falling into poverty as a result of the government’s tax credit changes.

 

Several organisations, including children’s charities, trade union Usdaw, and Citizens Advice, have urged David Cameron to postpone the changes to child benefit.

They say the changes, which remove working tax credit from up to 212,000 couples working between 16 and 24 hours will leave many of those affected worse off in work than on benefits, putting 424,000 adults and 470,000 children at risk of falling into poverty.

In addition the the open letter (pdf) to the prime minsiter, Usdaw and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) outlined in detail some of the “unintended consequences” of the reforms:

78% say they cannot find the extra hours of work they need

Most people working 16-24 hours on a low wage work in the service sector, which has been hard hit by recession. In retail, where a high proportion of the affected families work, additional hours are being cut as much as possible and no extra hours are available in most stores.

Very high levels of unemployment mean there are no additional or alternative jobs. Usdaw surveyed members who know they are affected by the changes, 78% of whom said they would not be able to find the additional hours of work they needed. Rising ‘underemployment’ – people who cannot get all the hours of work they want – is a growing problem.

Child poverty will surge

The families affected by this change are likely to already be close to the poverty threshold. The loss of Working Tax Credit of £3,870 (even with some counteracting increase in housing benefit as a consequence) will mean many, if not most, of these couples and their children will be plunged below the poverty line, or far deeper below the poverty line than they were already.

This would cause a surge in the extent of child poverty and the depth of child poverty.

Families will be better off out of work

The current margin between those out of work on benefits, and those in work between 16 and 24 hours, will be erased by this change. A parliamentary answer to Ann Coffey MP has confirmed that the change will make households worse off in work than on benefits.

See ‘Social security benefits’, column 395w, Hansard.

Families with disabled children and full-time carers are not exempt

Families with disabled children or other caring responsibilities are obviously less able to do more hours of work. However they have not been exempted from working additional hours, even where one partner is a full-time carer. The loss of £3,870 WTC will be a devastating additional blow to these hard-hit families.

Universal Credit will abolish the criteria for working hours in 2014

One of the key points about Universal Credit is that it will reward people for however many hours work they can do. The criteria for set hours of work will be abolished and families will receive support that is tapered at a set rate depending on their earnings rather than their hours of work.

This change will therefore create untold misery for hundreds of thousands of working families and their children for a small and temporary gain to the Treasury.

The strong economic situation needed to support this change has not been reached

The government first announced this change in November 2010 in the Spending Review. At the time the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) was predicting that the economy would be back in strong growth now of 2.1% in 2011 and 2.6% in 2012. But the economy grew at just 0.9% in 2011 and we have just had a contraction for the most recent quarter.

The OBR have also significantly revised upward the job losses they expect in the public sector, many of which will be implemented in the form of reduced hours. The argument by government that the change would incentivise increases in working hours no longer makes in sense in the current economic context.

As CPAG’s chief executive Alison Garnham says:

“It would be reckless to carry on regardless with a policy that puts 470,000 children at risk of being plunged into poverty. The policy change was designed for an economy that has returned to growth with plenty of options for claimants to increase their hours of work. Unfortunately our economic recovery is not there yet.

“As the system will change in 18 months anyway, the sensible thing for government is to postpone this change.”

See also:

The benefits Britons want to save are the ones the Tories want to cutDeclan Gaffney, February 28th 2012

Busting the means testing mythAndrew Harrop, January 26th 2012

Why child benefit must be removed from the benefit capDr Sam Royston, January 23rd 2012

A-list Tory ‘asks’ how we can stop the poor from having too many kidsAlex Hern, November 18th 2011

Cameron’s reforms take us to the edge of the cliffNatan Doron, June 25th 2011

39 Responses to “Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects”

  1. Pulp Ark

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have… //t.co/W5IT4wPV #Social_Justice #David_Cameron #tax_credit #muslim #tcot #sioa

  2. Michael

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects I Shamik Das – //t.co/IInhgVSb

  3. Patrick

    ‘Will discourage work’ -this coming from the party that has done more to discourage work and establish a sit-on-your-ass benefits culture than other other.

  4. tracy e

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects I Shamik Das – //t.co/IInhgVSb

  5. Trakgalvis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects, writes @ShamikDas: //t.co/O4JV0ZCu

  6. Inna Mood

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects I Shamik Das – //t.co/IInhgVSb

  7. Jonathan Maher

    Where is the evidence to support your argument Patrick?? Just how is it right that you do the right thing work however many hours you can and you claim tax credits then the government changes the goalposts thinking that things will be all rosy. This will cost the taxpayer MORE through increased unemployment benefits/ council tax benefits etc. Its a self defeating measure.
    Under Labour unemployment fell but under the tories now its rising again to approx 2.67 million offically claiming JSA.
    Now having been out of work in the past, there is NO encouragement to ‘sit on your ass’ at home quite the opposite the Jobcentres constantly are checking to see if you’re applying for work, if they don’t think you are they can sanction you. Living on £67/wk is not enjoyable or good for you.
    If the banks were made to pay for the mess they created then just maybe we’d be creating more jobs than we are losing.

  8. Amanda Wilkinson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects, writes @ShamikDas: //t.co/O4JV0ZCu

  9. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects //t.co/T6YRrUwN

  10. Quellcrist Falconer

    #UK : Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects //t.co/RdsBMAZR

  11. clarebelz

    But that’s OK. Scrap the 50p tax rate, and restore child benefit to people earning over 43 grand a year; they need it more surely?

    As I’ve commented elsewhere, I realise that it’s relative, and that families earning a good wage living in the South may spend a large part of their income on mortgage costs, and so may be seriously affected by losing child benefits; there are in fact many personal accounts of this.

    Nevertheless, there is a big difference in circumstances between a high income earner and a low income earner with regard to their ability to withstand such a loss of income. For example, my carer earns the ‘living wage’ level but only works 16 hours a week; her total income is £120 take home. Last year, her partner lost his job with the local authority, and despite earning such a low income, she still has to pay part of her rent and council tax. They take pound for pound so that she is left with no more than a couple claiming JSA after she has paid her rent and CT. She incurs more losses on top of that due to requiring bus fare for work. She is becoming desperate as the prices of everything, as well as her rent are rising. I can’t imagine just how she would manage if she still had young children as well. As for moving, she already lives in a cheap to rent home, so there is no point looking for anything else, and even if she did, the government would still only leave her with the ‘applicable amount’ income for a couple.

    Better off people have more flexibility within their household budgets, which can enable them to move, and although it would be hard, they could downsize to a cheaper property, much like many benefit claimants are having to do. My carer has no such options open to her. Families in similar circumstances do not. Losing £20 per week Child Benefit is very little to some people, but it is unthinkable that people earning just £120 or less will lose on average £300 a month or more, when they can do little to change their economic circumstances.

    People are going to have a big shock when they receive their tax credit notification this month, because many people do not watch or listen to the news. As for Universal Credit rewarding work, that it may or may not do, but it will take years for people to migrate onto it (dependent on computer systems and we all know what a disaster they usually are!). Well before then, families will be plunged below the ‘bread-line’.

    Hopefully, they will all pile into their local constituency clinics to have a few calm words with their Tory M.P.!

  12. Mr. Sensible

    Clarebelz, it is worth making 2 points in reply to your comment on child benefit.

    First, I believe in the principle of universalism in the welfare state, for the simple reason that it avoids stigma.

    Second, in this case, I think it unfare that someone earning £43000 will lose their child benefit, meanwhile a household earning £80000 will be able to keep it as long as one person does not earn over the threshold.

    I do think that the changes to tax credit are a complete mess.

  13. Onye Akpala

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects //t.co/5AFbIQyC

  14. Hinchliffe, Rob

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects //t.co/CYwzKYDm

  15. DarrellGoodliffe

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  16. Mabel Horrocks

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  17. Martin Steel

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  18. Foxy52

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  19. Janet Graham

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  20. TheCreativeCrip

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  21. David Gillon

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  22. Catherine Brunton

    How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #pmqs #makeworkpay

  23. TheCreativeCrip

    #benefits #RiseUpUK <> RT @leftfootfwd: How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/68O4kcrU #makeworkpay

  24. jbw

    #benefits #RiseUpUK <> RT @leftfootfwd: How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/68O4kcrU #makeworkpay

  25. RiseUpUK

    #benefits #RiseUpUK <> RT @leftfootfwd: How the government's tax credit reforms will discourage work: //t.co/68O4kcrU #makeworkpay

  26. Newsbot9

    Yes, and I’m sure you’ll provide figures as the number of long-term JSA claimants to support your views. (Hint: If you’d researched this, you’d know you were talking cobblers)

  27. Newsbot9

    People are NOT living on £67 a week. Many are living on FAR less as a result of housing benefit cuts. The average is well below £50!

  28. Brent CAB

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects including increasing child poverty: //t.co/1jWLuACE #benefits

  29. Trafford CAB

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects including increasing child poverty: //t.co/1jWLuACE #benefits

  30. Vanessa

    Tax credit changes will discourage work and have other disastrous effects including increasing child poverty: //t.co/1jWLuACE #benefits

  31. UNISON MillionVoices

    RT @leftfootfwd: The tax credit changes will discourage work: //t.co/TjGF9Fa5 #PMQs

  32. Martin Steel

    The tax credit changes will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #PMQs

  33. Colne Valley Labour

    The tax credit changes will discourage work: //t.co/gkg2FtSn #PMQs

  34. karen Bell

    RT @leftfootfwd: The tax credit changes will discourage work: //t.co/TjGF9Fa5 #PMQs

  35. Shamik Das

    Here's how the tax credit changes will disincentivise work: //t.co/mA0KLLk0 #PPW12

  36. John Blake

    Here's how the tax credit changes will disincentivise work: //t.co/mA0KLLk0 #PPW12

  37. Jos Bell

    Here's how the tax credit changes will disincentivise work: //t.co/mA0KLLk0 #PPW12

  38. Richard Angell

    Here's how the tax credit changes will disincentivise work: //t.co/mA0KLLk0 #PPW12

  39. Justin Wood

    Here's how the tax credit changes will disincentivise work: //t.co/mA0KLLk0 #PPW12

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