Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has challenged the Tory-led government in Parliament over its disastrous changes to tax credits which will make over 200,000 low income households up to £3,870 per year worse off as a result.
Alex lambasted the change which will see 212,000 households, including 340 in Stockton North and almost 3000 in Teesside, currently entitled to Working Tax Credit and working between 16 and 24 hours per week losing their working tax credit if they cannot find more working hours.
Many parents will be forced to totally give up work, and may be forced to give up their child care places as a result, and Alex questioned what action the Government will take to monitor the impact of the changes to family support on the child care market, to ensure that when women can return to work they will not be left struggling to find a child care place.
Unfortunately Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller passed the buck to local councils, emphasizing it is their responsibility to ensure sufficiency of supply of child care places, despite local authorities being handed down cuts of as much as 25% by the Tory-led government.
Since the Government slashed the rate of support for child care a year ago, 44,000 fewer people have claimed childcare support, women’s unemployment is now at its highest for 25 years and 50,000 more women are economically inactive than before the cut was made.
“The Government has shown total contempt for hardworking low income families who are already facing rising food and energy prices and a hike in VAT, and this cut in tax credits will only hit them harder.
“It is absolutely incomprehensible as to why the government seems so keen to penalise parents and particularly women who are working and trying to do the right thing, but simply cannot increase their working hours at a time when the economy is flat-lining and unemployment rising.
“Working parents have had yet another kick in the teeth with the Government cutting the support they can claim for childcare costs from 80% to 70%, resulting in half a million families being more than £500 a year worse off, with some losing as much as £1500.
“Cutting support for child care is a false economy, and for the Government to pass the buck to local authorities whose budgets are being stretched to the limit is quite simply irresponsible.