UNISON calls on government to change damaging policies on higher thresholds for working tax credits

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UNISON is calling on the government to rethink its damaging policies on higher thresholds for working tax credits from Friday 6 April, or leave many couples and their families facing poverty.

The union is also calling for an end to the confusion over eligibility caused by the government’s own “rough guide”.

The changes to working tax credits will hit hard working families who will find themselves in a catch 22 situation, and may be forced into giving up work as a result, which would cost the government more money as they turn to benefits for survival.

Heather Wakefield, UNISON’s Head of Local Government, said: “The system simply isn’t fair. Our low-paid members are being penalised for trying to work and earn an honest day’s wage. They will be unable to find the extra hours needed to continue receiving the working tax credit, plunging many into poverty.

“At the same time, those earning over £150,000 will be left tens of thousands of pounds better off from Easter next year because of the Budget. These credits were a lifeline to hard-pressed families and it is their children who will suffer as a direct result of this government’s actions.

“Many children in typical working households, may end up disappointed, as many parents will be forced to cut back on life’s simple treats such as affording to buy their children Easter eggs.  Whereas those earning more than £150,000 and gaining from the 50p to the 45p rate tax cut, will see the Chancellor has laid them a golden egg, as they treat themselves to a Fabergé from the tens of thousands of pounds that they’ll gain.”

Women members working for councils are being attacked by the government from all sides. 210,000 local government jobs have gone, pay has been frozen for three years and conditions are being slashed in local authorities up and down the country.

The changes to working tax credits will mean that part-timers in couple households working fewer than 24 hours a week will see their working tax credit disappear. Over half of all local government jobs are part-time, so many will have more money taken out of their pockets.

The government’s website provides a ‘rough guide’ to these changes, which simply isn’t good enough, warns the union. The tax changes are causing a great deal of confusion and will leave thousands of families in confusion and facing shortfalls in their income.

Heather Wakefield said: “The government really needs to put fairness first and rethink these unfair tax credit changes now.

“The personal tax allowance that the Chancellor so proudly announced in his budget doesn’t come into force until next April and any gain from that will be more than outweighed by the losses families will experience now. They could lose twenty times more than they will gain through tax threshold changes..

“In the meantime those who currently receive working tax credits will have to work for a minimum of 24 hours instead of 16, or face losing up to £3,780 a year – with the cost of food and fuel going up, that loss will sink many into an intolerable burden of debt.  And for most part time workers, extra hours are not even an option.  Funding cutbacks in local government are already resulting in cuts to working hours and many private employers just cannot afford to pay for extra hours.”

The impact of the changes of the 24-hour rule are further evidenced by research carried out for UNISON by the New Policy Institute,which provides a range of case studies highlighting the attack on low-paid families.

 


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