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Labour MPs, Peers betray north east low income families

October 28, 2015 9:53 AM

North East Liberal Democrats have attacked Labour's decision not to vote in support of a Lib Dem "fatal motion" in the House of Lords tonight, which would have stopped the Conservative Government's tax credit cuts.

Labour peers abstained rather than vote alongside Lib Dem peers on Baroness Manzoor's motion to "decline to approve" the changes.

National figures produced by the House of Commons Library show over three million low income working families currently in receipt of tax credits will see their entitlement reduced. In the North East, this equates to 141,000 affected families and 200,000 children losing a total of £141.5 million, based on an average loss of £1000 per family. A further 67,200 individual (i.e. non family) tax credit recipients on low incomes will lose a further £15 million in the region.

Labour's abstention in the Lords follows a similar abstention in the Commons when 18 out of the North East's 26 Labour MPs failed to vote against the Welfare Bill which included tax credit changes, including all Newcastle and Sunderland Labour MPs as well as those for Tynemouth, Blyth Valley, South Shields, Jarrow, Durham City, North Durham, and NW Durham. The Conservative MPs for Berwick and Hexham supported the cuts.

Liberal Democrat MPs and peers have opposed the move and say it will undermine the work of the previous Conservative government to make sure it always pays more to be in work than on benefits.

North East Liberal Democrat spokesman Greg Stone said "These changes hammer families in the North East, and completely undermine any claim the Tories have of being on the side of working families. The changes are particularly disgraceful given that they were challenged on this issue by Liberal Democrats during the General Election campaign when the Conservatives told the electorate they would not introduce such a policy. The result of their deception is that 200,000 children in our region will now be living in poorer households, reducing their life chances and making it harder for their parents to make ends meet.

"Labour MPs, save for a small number of rebels, betrayed families in the North East by failing to vote against the Conservative plans in the Commons, and they have now been joined in ignominy by Labour Lords, including North East peers like Lord Beecham, in failing to support the Lib Dem "fatal" motion. The Labour amendment only seeks to delay the pain for low paid families, instead of stopping it."

"Lib Dems opposed these plans in Coalition where we ensured that work would always pay more than remaining on benefits, and we are continuing to oppose the plans in Opposition since the election. It is a disgrace that Labour again chose not to support our motion which would have blocked these cuts, and demonstrates that Labour have badly lost their way as a credible Opposition party."