Press Release: Strivers’ tax will hammer 25,000 families in Edinburgh

Edinburgh East MP and Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore today released figures showing that 25,000 families on tax credits in Edinburgh will be hit by George Osborne’s ‘Strivers’ tax.

Working families in Edinburgh will be amazed that George Osborne is asking them to pick up the tab for his failure at the same time as he gives a tax cut to millionaires.

25,000 working families on tax credits in Edinburgh are facing a strivers’ tax because this government has failed on jobs and growth.

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

No growth, more debt, higher unemployment, this government is failing and once again Britain’s strivers are taking the hit.

Last month this government admitted their Work Programme is worse than doing nothing, leaving millions locked out of work and pushing the benefit bill through the roof – an eye-watering £13.6bn higher than expected.

To pay down the price of that failure they are raiding the budget of their own Universal Credit programme which was supposed to make sure you’re always better off in work. Instead the scheme will lock in George Osborne’s ‘strivers’ tax’.

Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:

Taking into account everything George Osborne announced in the autumn statement, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that one earner families with children will on average be £534 a year worse off by 2015. Yet 8,000 millionaires will get an average tax cut of over £107,000 next April.

There is nothing fair about making striving working families pay the price for this government’s economic failure, while George Osborne gives a £3 billion tax cut to the richest earners in the country.

Notes:

  1. Figures for families in Edinburgh can be downloaded here.
  2. According to the Resolution Foundation, more than 6 in 10 households affected by the 1% uprating decision are in work.
  3. Data released by DWP last month showed that the Work Programme placed only 2% of participants into a job. According to the DWP’s own estimates, 5% would have been placed into jobs if no policy were in place. See
  4. Cuts to tax credits, including uprating by CPI, will total £14.6 billion over the course of this parliament.
  5. Sheila Gilmore is a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. You can view the committee’s website here.
  6. For more information please contact Matt Brennan, Parliamentary Assistant to Sheila Gilmore MP, on 020 7219 7062, 07742 986 513 or matthew.brennan@parliament.uk.
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Welfare Reform and its impact on disabled people and carers

On Tuesday I took part in a debate on Welfare Reform and its impact on disabled people and carers. There were 25 Labour MPs in attendance and only 3 from the Coalition parties, showing the strength of feeling on these issues among my colleagues. I have reproduced my short speech in full below, but you can read the full debate here.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Chope. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns) on securing the debate.

I am going to pre-empt the Minister, because I expect her to say in reply to the debate, as she keeps saying, “You”—not meaning any of us personally, but the Opposition—“did not have a cumulative impact assessment when you were in power.” However, I cannot think of a time when so many things have been happening simultaneously. The roll-out of incapacity benefit to ESA is still going on. We will have the change from disability living allowance to personal independence payment. We have housing benefit changes and universal credit. The reason we want a cumulative impact assessment is that what is happening is unprecedented. We need to know what will happen to people like my constituent who is 59 and has lived in her home for 30 years; she has severe back and hip problems and has just received a letter telling her she will lose housing benefit in April unless she can find somewhere to move to. Currently her grandchildren stay over for part of the week, which helps her family out. If she cannot do that any more, it will have an impact on their living and working arrangements. A ripple effect happens.

I have not yet dared tell my constituent that almost certainly she will in due course lose severe disability premium, which she currently gets because she is in receipt of income support and has no carer in the household. That, doubtless, is still to come, but I do not want to make her too fearful. The things that she does know about are happening already. They are not a myth being created by us or the disability movement.

When people become ill they experience a fantastic loss of income anyway, and an increase in costs. The Government appear to be oblivious to that. If a couple have been working—one full-time and one part-time—and the one who worked full-time suffers a stroke and must give up work, they go down to half an income and ESA. At the end of a year, if the person in question ends up in the ESA work-related activity group, their income falls again: the ESA will be lost because it is contributory; they will not qualify for the non-contributory version—even though they have worked and paid in all their lives they will not get that—so their income will go down to that of a part-time employee. Again, there are ripple effects and cumulative effects on people at a time when they are incurring greater costs. Someone who is at home more than they were when they went to work will have increased fuel and transport costs to meet. The person who is ill and has a disability may always have been the driver for the household, so there will be taxi and increased public transport costs. People in that position already have a substantial reduction in income.

I am glad that the Minister realised that the initial plans for rolling out DLA into PIP were totally unrealistic, and that the time scale has been extended, but there will still be clear losers. Our accounts are not scare stories. The information comes from the Government’s figures: 170,000 people, on reassessment, will lose DLA altogether before October 2015. That is a lot of people. That, apparently, is reality in the Government’s terms. I ask the Minister please to agree to a cumulative impact assessment.

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Press release: Long term unemployment up 42% in Edinburgh and Work Programme doing nothing to help

Edinburgh East MP and Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore today highlighted the sharp rise in long term unemployment in Edinburgh and slammed the failure of the Government’s Work Programme.

Sheila Gilmore said:

Here in Edinburgh long term unemployment is still up 42% on the year. But the government’s Work Programme is comprehensively failing.

Last month we found out that the Work Programme is getting fewer people into jobs than if the Government did nothing at all. Only 3% of people referred onto to the Work Programme have been placed into jobs in Edinburgh.

This Government has got to wake up to this crisis, they must take action now and they should start with Labour’s Real Jobs Guarantee and get our young people back to work.

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said:

Today’s headline fall in unemployment will be welcome news for thousands of striving families really feeling the pinch this Christmas.

But today’s news brought fresh evidence that we are absolutely not out of the woods. Unbelievably, unemployment actually rose across a third of England, job growth has slowed to the slowest pace we’ve seen since January and pay packets are taking an absolute hammering. Last month prices rose at twice the rate of wages.

Worst of all, while working families are doing anything and everything to bring in work, the DWP appears to be doing absolutely nothing. Long term unemployment is refusing to budge as the Government’s beleaguered Work Programme fails to make a blind bit of difference.

What today’s figures really show is that Britain’s strivers are under more pressure now than ever, which is why it is absolutely wrong to be taking another whack out of families’ tax credits with the proposed strivers tax.

Notes:

  • See long term unemployment and Work Programme statistics for Edinburgh here.
  • Sheila Gilmore is a member of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. You can view the committee’s website here.
  • For more information please contact Matt Brennan, Parliamentary Assistant to Sheila Gilmore MP, on 020 7219 7062, 07742 986 513 or matthew.brennan@parliament.uk.
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Castlebrae Community High School consultation response

The consultation on the proposed closure of Castlebrae Community High School ends today, Friday, 7th December 2012.

The regeneration of Craigmillar is instrinsically linked with the progress of its young people and the need for a local High School, at the heart of the community. In my consultation I have called on the City of Edinburgh Council to withdraw its plans to close the school. The Council must now work with the Scottish Government to ensure that the school stays open while a new one is built, and the local regeneration is completed.

You can read a copy of my submission here:
Castlebrae High Schoo1-FINAL

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