Doncaster activists’ joy after tax credit cuts are scrapped

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne

Doncaster campaigners have welcomed a U-turn from Chancellor George Osborne over proposed plans to reduce tax credits.

Speaking as he delivered the first comprehensive spending review since 2010, Mr Osborne said he could ‘abandon’ the proposed controversial tax credit cuts of £4.4 billion due to improvements in public finances.

The surprise announcement about tax credits came after the House of Lords threw out the original proposals.

There had been speculation Mr Osborne would phase in the cuts instead.

Chair of the Doncaster People’s Assembly, John Westmoreland, said the Chancellor had made the right decision.

He said: “I think the pressure that has been exerted upon him has forced him into this.

“Even the House of Lords voted against it because they know it’s inhumane.

“I’d like to think it’s because of the protests we’ve held in Doncaster!

“But really it’s because of the pressure that’s been put on him by groups protesting up and down the country.

“I think people here will be relieved, but it’s probably a case of what will he cut it from instead?”

Members of the Doncaster People’s Assembly took to the town’s streets on Tuesday to show their opposition to changes to tax credits, which are an allowance paid to parents and some low-paid workers.

This came after Doncaster Council released new figures estimating 19,800 of the borough’s working families were in reciept of the credit.

Speaking on the U-turn in the House of Commons, Mr Osborne said he would still be able to deliver the promised £12 billion in welfare cuts over the next five years while balancing the books by the end of the parliament.

To Tory cheers, he told the Commons: “I’ve had representations that these changes to tax credits should be phased in. I’ve listened to the concerns. I hear and understand them. And because I’ve been able to announce today an improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether.”

Announcing the decision to maintain police budgets, the Chancellor said he had had representations they should be cut by up to 10 per cent. But he declared: “N ow is not the time for further police cuts. Now is the time to back our police and give them the tools to do the job.

“There will be no cuts in the police budget at all. There will be real terms protection for police funding. The police protect us, and we’re going to protect the police.”

Scrapping them altogether will be welcomed by many Tory backbenchers who were uneasy with the plans. But Mr Osborne said the move would mean the government would breach its own cap on benefits in the first years of this parliament.