All the evidence shows that nowadays being in work is no guarantee of not being poor. Low pay, zero hours contracts and part time jobs mean that for many families, they work hard but still struggle to get by.
Child and Working tax credits are a progressive Labour policy introduced by Gordon Brown over a decade ago to help tackle in-work poverty.
Now the Conservative UK government have announced swingeing cuts to tax credits that will leave working families on average £1300 a year worse off. This is a policy which is not devolved, but applies across the UK, so many families in this County will suffer. Official statistics show that nearly 4,500 families in my East Lothian constituency are in receipt of tax credits.
The Tories claim that their so-called ‘National Living Wage’ will compensate those losing out, but we know, and the experts tell us, that most people will be worse off. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt let slip the Tories’ real agenda when he said the cuts would ‘make people work harder like the Chinese’. This policy is so damaging that it has been reported that several Tory MPs have urged the Government to step back, fearing it could be a ‘poll tax’ moment for David Cameron.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says she backs Mr Cameron on the cuts, while under her leadership the Tories voted against extending the real living wage to where it needs to be, low paid professions like caring, catering and cleaning.
Scottish Labour will oppose the Tory cuts. Their plans are nothing short of a work penalty for thousands of families in East Lothian that will turn back the clock on in-work poverty. We will continue to make the case for retaining tax credits and introducing a real living wage to make sure work always pays.