A tax on strivers


Last week the government voted for an unfair attack on the tax credits and working benefits which millions of people rely on to get by.

Many working families are finding things really tough at the moment. They do the right thing, get up early, work a long day, but still they struggle to make ends meet. Many of them use tax credits and benefits to top up their income as without them work wouldn’t pay.

In my constituency of Birmingham Northfield 7,600 families currently in receipt of tax credits will be hit. Across the country, seven million working households will lose out and 200,000 children will be pushed into poverty as a result. They are being asked to pay the price for the Tories’ economic failures while millionaires are getting a tax cut.

In recent weeks the government has tried to divide the country by dishonestly claiming this is an attack on ‘shirkers’ – but the reality is the opposite. More than two-thirds of the households affected by these cuts are working households. The people that are losing out here aren’t skivers; they’re strivers.

Like everyone, I want to cut the benefits bill. But the best way to do that is to get people into work, not punish people who are already doing the right thing by working but are struggling to make ends meet.

In the House of Commons Labour challenged the government to do the fair thing: to vote to scrap the ‘strivers’ tax’; stand up for disabled people who face a real terms cut in support; remove the ‘mummy tax’ which will cut maternity pay; and forget their unfair millionaire’s tax cut.

We need a One Nation system which is tough, but fair, and which rewards people who work. And we need a One Nation government with a serious plan for jobs.

  • A version of this article was first published in last week’s Bromsgrove Standard. You can read the newspaper online here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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