‘Losing tax credits on low incomes is absolutely real’

November 2, 2015

Neil Parish


WORKING POOR: Neil Parish, former MEP for Somerset and Dorset and MP for Honiton and Tiverton, who says anyone on a low salary losing £1,300 would be huge amount of their disposable income.


A FORMER Dorset and Somerset MEP has told the Government why they must ensure that it pays to work for those who are on low incomes.

Neil Parish, who was Tory MEP for the two counties between 1999 and 2010 and has been MP for Honiton and Tiverton in 2010, was one of 20 Conservative MPs who has told Chancellor George Osborne to soften the impact of the cuts to Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits.

Other prominent Conservatives who have also expressed their concerns include Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davison, freedom of speech campaigner David Davis, London mayor Boris Johnson and former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell.

The Government wants to carry through these cuts to save £4.4B from the welfare bill and some critics of these changes have dubbed this move as their “Poll Tax moment” as the Prime Minister David Cameron promised during the election campaign that they would not to make the cuts to tax credits.

The average wage in Honiton and Tiverton for full-time employees is £18,700 and the number claiming tax credits there is more than 22 per cent.

Having lived and worked in the constituencies of Yeovil, Somerton and Frome, and Wells myself between 1998 and 2008, I don’t think this figure will much higher for them. The same is likely to be the case for Poole and Mid Dorset and North Poole, the two constituencies in Dorset where I reside and work. How do I know? I have had to use Tax Credits to get by like many others.

Many in rural communities working in conservation, farming and the craft industries and in warehouses tend to be on low wages and some of them will be on tax credits.

Speaking to Parliament during a debate on Tax credits Mr Parish said: “It is fundamental that people who work are better off than those who are not.

“As a Conservative, I believe we should be encouraging people into work because they are better off, but if we are not careful, the policy will drive people back on to benefits and take us in the opposite direction from where we want to go.

“I very much support the national living wage but the Chancellor (George Osborne) needs to help the many small companies in our constituencies to pay for it.

“As people get more in their pockets and more from their employment, we can reduce tax credits and the state subsidy on employment. We all get that.

“We all know what has got to be done, but we cannot do it at the speed we are doing it and take money from perhaps millions of people, it is simple arithmetic. For someone on a low salary, £1,300 is a huge amount of their disposable income – we must remember that this is about disposable income.

“May I be so bold to say that it does not matter how many spin doctors and people who are clever with figures we have? When someone on a low income relies on tax credits knows that money is being taken away, it is absolutely real.

“I hate to say it, but on this occasion, the Government and Chancellor have to be absolutely certain about how many people will be affected and what we will do about it.

“I have always been optimistic in my life because I always believe there are solutions. I believe there is a solution to this because the Chancellor is a very clever man and will come back to the Chamber with some proposals.

“These people – whether they are cleaners or classroom assistants, whether they work in the Health Service, the private sector, the tourism industry or farms – are all hard-working, and we must be a party and Government that support them.

“We have done that up till now and we have just lost our way a little, but we can come back out of the wilderness and put this right.”


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