‘We need review but we also need a better answer,’ says Stevenage’s MP

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland with Featherstone Wood Primary School shools parliament representati

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland with Featherstone Wood Primary School shools parliament representatives Joe Hares and Eliza Miller. - Credit: Archant

Stevenage’s MP is one of four Tories who will take part in a cross-party debate later this month on the planned cuts to tax credit.

Stephen McPartland will debate the matter in the House of Commons next week.

Last month he raised concerns about the changes and was one of only two Tory MPs to vote against his government to cut tax credits.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr McPartland said: “I am trying to persuade the treasury that we need to do more to help those families on low incomes that will suffer as a result of the cuts to tax credits. I was one of two Conservative Members of Parliament who voted against the original legislation to impose the cuts. Many more of my colleagues are now speaking out and even more are raising the issue in private with treasury ministers.

“Their defence at the moment is focused on considering the overall impact of the cuts in tax credits with the positive measures put forward in the budget. Such as free childcare for three and four year olds, increasing personal tax allowances and reducing confusion in the system.

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“I will be the first to agree that the tax credit system needs to be reformed. It costs over £30 billion a year and almost everyone finds the system confusing and over £1 billion a year is lost in fraud. However, we have to reform it in a fairer way and mitigate the effect it has on those families with the lowest incomes.

“For example, if you are a teaching assistant earning around £11,000 a year, then you could face a cut of £1,200 just from the change in the tax credits income threshold from £6,420 down to £3,850. If you do not have a child aged three or four then you will not benefit from the free childcare policy and increases in the personal tax allowance over £11,000 will not be any benefit, as you will not earn enough.

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“We must mitigate the overall impact on these families and I am positive we will be able to achieve a result if we can keep the pressure up. Labour has left these families behind and we should be reaching out to them, because they get up and go to work instead of opting for an easier life. These are the families who do so many of the most important jobs in our society, which are taken for granted. I will keep speaking out and have joined MPs from all parties to call for a debate next Thursday.”

The debates title will be: This House asks the government to reconsider the impact on the lowest paid workers of its proposed changes to tax credits, due to take effect in April 2016, and to bring forward mitigation proposals to the house.

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