The Tories don’t want to make work pay. They want to make working families pay

David Cameron doesn't have the first idea how to lead a workers' party


Yesterday, David Cameron wrote in The Times that the Conservatives are the party of the workersand that their ‘One Nation mission is restoring the link between hard work and reward’.  Unfortunately, what they are actually doing is precisely the opposite.

At some point in the coming months, ministers will legislate for the tax credit cuts announced in George Osborne’s Budget. The result: over 3 million working families will lose over £1,000 a year on average, and work incentives will be cut. 

Take a couple with three children, and one earner on a salary of £32,000. The household’s income is around £25,000 per year. Tax credit cuts next April mean they will lose £2900 per year. Or a couple with one child, and one person working with an income of £19,000 per year. Their income will fall by £2000. How are these working families supposed to cope with such massive cuts to their income? 

It is absurd to pretend that the Conservative Party is representing working families. David Cameron and George Osborne have no idea what it is like to live on incomes at this level. They never meet people who have to.

The number of people earning less than a Living Wage has risen by 45 per cent since 2009. There has been a 50 per cent rise in housing benefit spending for people in work since 2010.  If David Cameron is serious about ‘restoring the link between hard work and reward’, he has to drop George Osborne’s plan to cut tax credits.  If it goes ahead as announced, the viability of hundreds of thousands of working families will be wrecked.

The Budget also delivered a hammer blow to the faltering Universal Credit project. Iain Duncan Smith announced proudly after the Budget – reflecting bruising pre-Budget negotiations – that the Universal Credit taper rate would not be worsened. He was correct, although the taper rate for tax credits is being greatly worsened. But the work allowances – amounts you can earn before your Universal Credit starts to be reduced – are being drastically cut.

The result will be that people will earn less. Universal Credit was supposed to make sure claimants were better off in work, but the Budget cuts have undermined that before Universal Credit has even properly started.

Government plans to increase the minimum wage are welcome. But they don’t make up for these enormous tax credit cuts. In any case, the tax credit cuts come in next April, while the increase in the national minimum wage will be phased in over five years. 

That is the reason we voted against the Budget.  When the government brings forward legislation to enact these huge cuts to the incomes of working families, we will fight them tooth and nail.

The Tories’ actions are not about making work pay; they are about making working families pay. The Conservative Party doesn’t have the first idea how to be a Workers’ Party. Their history and record in government tell a completely different story.

They are pursuing an ideological attack on workplace representation through their unnecessary Trade Union Bill. They are seeking to tear up the Sunday trading settlement, robbing shop workers and others of precious time with their families, and undermining small businesses. They are attacking the low paid, not low pay. 

The Workers’ Party? No, the party of the narrow, wealthy elite which funds them.

Stephen Timms is shadow minister for employment. Follow him on Twitter

Want to read more posts like this? Then *sign-up to Look Left* and make sure you have the facts to rebut right-wing spin

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

14 Responses to “The Tories don’t want to make work pay. They want to make working families pay”

  1. Sean

    Erm, who voted against the welfare bill? Not the 184 Labour MPs who abstained…

  2. blarg1987

    Corbyn did, and think you find those MP’s are probabaly New Labour not Old Labour.

  3. Sean

    That was my point, that the shadow cabinet all abstained, so didn’t vote against the welfare bill…

  4. madasafish

    “The Workers’ Party? No, the party of the narrow, wealthy elite which funds them”

    Hmm.. So Labour has no wealthy members then? No Blairs, Mandelsons, Benns who are all multi millionaires and a wealthy elite. No Margaret Hodge,No Shaun Wodward and no Harriet Harman with a Suffolk estate.No ten home owner Michael Meacher.No Emily Thornberry with a housing empire.And of course the Kinnocks have hardly five million pounds to rub together.

    No millionaire donor.John Mills, the brother of former minister Tessa Jowell’s husband David, whose conviction for accepting a bribe in Italy has reassuringly been overturned on statute-of–limitations groundsb together..

    So glad to see Labour is The Workers Party.. no rich elites here..

  5. Anon

    “The number of people earning less than a Living Wage has risen by 45 per cent since 2009”

    So what has Mr Stephen Timms done about it?

    In his own consistency has been a big supporter of London City Airport. They opened in 1987 as a small airport to serve business customers. They were only allowed to use small 7 seater planes. They now operate 150 seater planes. Despite all expansion they won over the years. The airport failed to pay the LIVING WAGE. As ‘shadow minister for employment’, he seem to ignore the fact the airport promised to create 5,000 jobs. Yet barely employed 1,800 (even then this include businesses at the airport e.g. cafe, newsagents).

    Despite the negative impact the airport has on the local community, both on noise, air pollution. He seems to care little about his constituents. He does not care children wake up to the smell of aviation fuel in their bedrooms, or that the school lessons are disrupted by aircraft. People cannot spend time in their gardens.

  6. AlanGiles

    True. It is also worth mentioning that the recently enobled Tessa Jowell – the woman who thinks being London Mayor is a full time job, even though in real terms she would have two jobs herself, is in favour of the third runway at Heathrow. Pollution would increase dramatically if Dame Jowell and Timms got their way

  7. Dave Stewart

    Being concerned with the plight of workers does not depend on being a worker yourself. You cannot reasonably consider that the Conservatives fight for the plight of the average worker so you cannot call them a workers party. The labour party (rich members and all) are supposed to fight for the plight of workers whether they do or not is debatable but at least on paper it would be a reasonable description if in practice not so.

    I have never understood this attitude that the wealthy cannot possibly give a damn about those less well off and only the destitute are allowed to be concerned with poverty. It says more about the people spouting it than those it is aimed at I think.

  8. we77

    never been better off since Cameron starting cutting back benefits of all these scroungers looking for a hand out 🙂

  9. madasafish

    Well it is a Labour Shadow Minister saying it.. A man who apparently believes that those out of work for whatever reason should be paid more (net of taxes ) than some of those in work who pay taxes to support those out of work.

    At least that’s the position Gordon Brown left – so Mr Twigg evidently thinks it’s a good thing.

  10. BlueApesRevolt

    ..but the scroungers are still scrounging..I.e.big business makes more money than ever through corporatewelfare. At the same time wealthy individuals and major corporations have become snidier about tax dodging.Tax dodging of course deprives the economy of trillions of pounds.I have every sympathy with those people who rely on benefits.. many are actually in work,many have paid into the system all their lives and the rest either will or would pay into the system. Why don’t you rail against the cut in inheritance tax?.. that will disproportionately benefit the children of the wealthy who have done nothing to earn their wealth.As a taxpayer I resent my taxes going towards this type..same goes for my paying towards the charitable status for public schools..bloody scroungers.

  11. Barbara Kirk

    Is it okay to wonder if Osbourne is asking Cameron when the streetcars are coming on (re: Big Bang Theory scene where Sheldon asks Leonard this at a production of A Streetcar Named Desire that Penny’s in)?

  12. treborc

    Osborne looks like Blair and Cameron looks like Brown , so i would say the political view are pretty much the same.

  13. Bananatwix

    I hope you never need it. . No actually, I hope you do, then I hope you find they do nothing for you because of all the cuts you supported. That would be justice. You arsehole.

  14. Mick

    Labour themselves have said cuts were needed. IN office, they said some very bitter medicine was required to fix the economy which Labour left naked even before the crash.

    Labour gave us the idea for the bedroom tax, gave us ATOS and A4E and others besides. New or Old Labour, you have those in it advocating free cash for all or pretty much what the Coalition kicked off.

    It’s very easy to attack the Tories for what everyone knew they would do anyway, and voted for to chase some common good. That’s why the Government cares less about criticism from the likes of people who only bellyache anyway.

Leave a Reply