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Families with Children (Tax and Benefits)

Volume 550: debated on Tuesday 11 September 2012

13. What assessment he has made of the effect on families with children of the tax and benefit changes made in 2012-13. (120146)

The Government have taken unprecedented steps to increase the transparency of decision making. All but the highest income decile have on average gained from direct tax changes. The Government continue to help and protect the most vulnerable with, for example, increases in the child element of the child tax credit by £180 per annum above inflation in April 2011.

Up to 1,000 households in my constituency face having their tax credits withdrawn this year, and 275 families with 625 children faced losing working tax credit if parents could not increase their hours. Why is the Chancellor trying to balance the books on the backs of hard-working families, and will he concede that children are bearing the brunt of this Government’s failed policies?

Under the previous Government, spending on tax credits was out of control, having risen from £18 billion in 2003 to £30 billion in 2010, meaning that nine out of 10 families with children were eligible for tax credits. This Government have reduced that to six out of 10 by taking a more targeted approach. It is important that we support those on the lowest incomes while ensuring that those who can contribute to deficit reduction do so. There is nothing fair about running huge deficits for our children.

In Birmingham, 283,000 people have benefited from a tax cut of £220. Will the Minister assure me that we will continue to try to protect the low-paid by reducing how much tax they pay?

That is a central plank of the Government’s policy, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that some of the changes we have already announced, such as those contained in the personal allowance, which I know he supports, are doing exactly that.

I congratulate the Minister on his appointment, but the Government’s tax and spending cuts have hit women and children the hardest, leaving families struggling and child poverty on the rise. The last time there was no woman in the Treasury was 17 years ago under the last Tory Government. Although I welcome him to his place, does he think that the Government’s record with women will get worse or better with no female voice at the table?

The Government’s policies, including those of the Treasury, are helping women. The change I mentioned previously—to the personal tax credits—will take 1.1 million people out of income taxation altogether, which will disproportionately benefit women.