Use Scottish Government powers to protect the low paid

Helen Duddy
Helen Duddy

#STUC16 Delegates to Congress slammed cuts to tax credits and pledged to continue the campaign to fight these cuts and to implement the real living wage for our low paid members across the public and private sectors.

UNISON’s Helen Duddy welcomed George Osborne’s climb down on tax credit cuts in the last budget but warned us not to kid ourselves  –  this was not some sort of change of heart.

“He backed down because a lot of work had been done by a lot of people to work out and then expose just what this would mean to working families. And I’m proud to say that UNISON was amongst them.

But, said Helen, while he backed down on the cuts to tax credits, the cuts to universal credit work allowances have gone ahead and began to come into effect last Monday. Universal credit is being rolled out across the UK over the next two years.

“Once it arrives locally, people who aren’t receiving tax credits won’t be allowed to apply,” said Helen.

“This matters because universal credit usually pays less than tax credits. But the government has said that no one who is shifted off tax credits to universal credits will lose out, so if we encourage people to claim their tax credits, we will be helping them protect their income.

Helen pointed out that UNISON has teamed up with Entitled to Ltd to develop a tax credit calculator to encourage people to claim tax credits before they arrive locally and urged us to ask our members to visit the Entitled to website to make sure they are claiming what they can, when they can.

Helen warned, “While we should be acting today we should also be looking out for tomorrow. We might have beaten George Osborne once on tax credits but there’s no telling when he’ll crawl back out from under his rock and try it again, so we need to keep campaigning on this.

“And it’s right that we look to the Scottish parliament to be prepared to take action. After all, there is not much point in having a parliament – and there is no point in  giving it more powers – if those powers are not going to be used.

“So let’s act today to protect workers incomes and put safeguards in for the future,” urged Helen.

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